Saturday, June 30, 2007

New Books- To be Released

The Unheard: A Memoir of Deafness and Africa
by Josh Swiller
Publisher: Holt Paperbacks (September 4, 2007)
age: Teen- Adult
ISBN-10: 0805082107
Josh Swiller grew up encouraged by his family to use lipreading and hearing aids to "blend in" with the larger hearing world which never seemed to work. After college, Swiller set out to find a place so far removed that his deafness would become irrelevant. His quest to reconcile his deafness in an unforgiving hearing world leads him on a remarkable journey in an African village.

Great Deaf Americans (The Third Editions)
by Matthew S. Moore, Robert F. Panara
Publisher: Deaf Life Pr; 3 edition (December 2007)
ISBN-10: 0970587635

The third edition includes approximately 77 biographical profiles of deaf people in a variety of fields. Teachers, lawyers, advocates, artists, athletes, scholars, journalists, scientists, administrators, leaders, travelers, communications pioneers, an Art Deco architect, an innovative shoestring-budget ASL filmmaker, one of the world's finest botanical artists, and the “World’s Greatest Lifeguard” are here. Each chapter is illustrated with a picture and a detailed bibliography.
(Note: the book jacket for the Third Edition is unavailable at this time-- the Second Edition book jacket is included above.)

Special Stories for Disability Awareness: Stories and Activities for Teachers, Parents and Professionals
by Mal Leicester, Taryn Shrigley-Wightman
Publisher: Jessica Kingsley Publishers (August 30, 2007)
age: 4-11 with adult supervision
ISBN-10: 1843103907

This book provides stories that promote disability awareness and discussion among children aged 4–11 about universal issues such as fear, loss, feeling 'different', bullying, exclusion, joy, success, friendship and emotional growth. Each chapter features an engaging story, linked discussion and learning materials as well as suggestions for activities and photocopy-ready handouts.

Interview with Jean Ferris, author of Of Sound Mind (2001)

Interview with Jean Ferris, author of the award-winning Of Sound Mind.

Author Jean Ferris lives in San Diego, California with her husband. She has two daughters who grew up and became teachers. As a child, Jean Ferris moved quite often. With each new place she “eavesdropped on other people's conversations in an attempt to find clues to the local ways”, she “looked into the lighted windows of other people's houses at dusk as my father drove down the new streets” and she “kept a diary about what I did and how I felt and what I was thinking”. The eavesdropping, peeping and keeping a journal helped her write stories.

Jean Ferris attended Stanford University and earned a B.A. and M.A. in Speech Pathology and Audiology. She explains that this profession “turned out to be work I didn't enjoy and wasn't well-suited to”. She never even considered publishing one of her stories until later in her life. Now she has several published works including Of Sound Mind, the story of Theo and his entire Deaf family. I often recommend this book and it is certainly one of my favorites. You will find my recent interview with Jean Ferris (JF) below:

SPW: How did you get involved with writing a book about a Deaf family with a hearing son? Have you associated with Deaf people before?

JF: My college degree is in Speech Pathology and Audiology, so when I was in grad school I taught a class of pre-school deaf. Those were in the days when every deaf child was supposed to learn to speak, and even then that seemed wrong to me. I could see how frustrated these little toddlers were at not being able to express themselves. Besides, I loved the look of people signing--it seemed almost like art. Once I became a writer, I thought for years about using ASL in a story, but never could figure out how. Then I read an article in my local newspaper about the genetics of deafness, using a real family as illustration. The grandparents, parents and two out of three children were deaf. Even the dog was deaf! But one son was hearing--and I began to wonder what it would feel like to be in the minority within your own family. Bingo! There was my story.

SPW: When reading this book alone and with several of my students, we all decided that we wanted to “be” Ivy because she was just so COOL! What was your inspiration for her character? Do you believe that teens can be this well-adjusted?

JF: I'm not sure how well-adjusted Ivy is! She certainly has issues about her mother. But we all have issues about something--and some of us manage those issues better than others. I guess Ivy is a pretty good manager--but she's not perfect. Every now and then she has a meltdown. So, sure, I think teens can be well-adjusted. But that doesn't mean that they don't sometimes act irresponsibly or carelessly or irrationally. After all, their frontal lobes aren't finished developing!

SPW: When did you realize that you wanted to be a writer?

JF: I've known since I was a little girl that I wanted to be a writer. I wrote my first book when I was seven. We moved a lot when I was growing up and I was always the "new kid" at school, so I spent some lonely hours. I entertained myself by writing and reading--and reading is the best preparation for being a writer. It helps you learn what makes a good story.

SPW: Was it difficult to publish your books when you first began your career? What struggles did you have?

JF: It took me almost five years to sell my first book. I submitted short story manuscripts, and a couple of other book manuscripts, but nobody wanted them. I could have papered a room with my rejection slips. But I kept writing, kept submitting, and kept learning. I didn't have an agent, but luckily I didn't know how hard it was to sell a book without one, so I just kept submitting. Finally, an editor at the publishing house that still publishes me read my manuscript for Amen, Moses Gardenia (now out of print) and bought it. So my advice to any prospective writers is just keep at it. Sometimes persistence is more important than talent. And if you've got both, eventually you'll succeed.

SPW: What advice would you give to young people who are reading your books for the first time?

JF: The only advice I can give first time readers is to have an open mind about all the characters. None of them are perfect, but they all deserve compassion and understanding. Try to put yourself in the place of each character and see how that feels.

Of Sound Mind has received several awards and recommendations. See below:
Awards and Honors include:
American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults
Booklist Editors' Choice
Books for the Teen Age, New York Public Library
IBBY Honor Books
NCSS-CBC Notable Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies

Recommendations by:
Booklist, American Library Association, Starred Review
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Horn Book
Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly
School Library Journal
VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)

For more information about Jean Ferris’ books, visit:
For Teachers: Want a free Reading Guide? Visit:

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Authors Update

Below, read INTERVIEWS with:

*Professor/ Author JEAN ANDREWS, Ph.D.(posted June 20th);

*Author/ Playwright DOUG COONEY (posted June 18th); and

*Author/ Animal & Child Rights Activist GINNY RORBY (posted June 23rd).

Check back for future interviews, including Jean Ferris author of Of Sound Mind.

Interview with Hurt Go Happy author Ginny Rorby

From her website (, you will learn that author Ginny Rorby was a flight attendant and later became a writer of young adult books including, Dolphin Sky and Hurt Go Happy. She wasn’t always a great student. She was a poor student in high school and even dropped out of college. By the time that she turned 33, she understood the importance of education and returned to college.

The story includes thirteen-year-old Joey Willis who is deaf. Her mother forbids her to use sign language and insists that she read lips. Needless to say, Joey is often left out of conversations. That is until she meets Dr. Charles Mansell whose parents were deaf. Joey secretly begins to learn to sign. “Hurt Go, Happy” is American Sign Language for “the pain has ended.”

Hurt Go Happy is inspired by the true story of Lucy, a chimpanzee raised as a human child, and the culmination of ten years of research that includes one girl's determination to save the life of a fellow creature-one who shares ninety-eight percent of our DNA.

SPW: How did you get involved with writing a book about a deaf character? Have you met any people before who use sign language?

GR: For years I'd been reading about Koko, the sign-language using gorilla, and about Washoe, the first chimp to use sign, and was intrigued. In 1988, I read the Houston Chronicle article, mentioned in Hurt Go Happy about Lucy. At the time I was just entering grad school to work on an MFA in Creative Writing and had just started writing Dolphin Sky, my first novel, which has a similar plot. Anyway, I couldn't get that newspaper article out of my head. and shortly thereafter, I went to an author reading at Books and Books in Coral Gables, FL (where I was living.) The author was Ruth Sidransky, the book, In Silence: Growing Up Hearing in a Deaf World. The whole plot idea for HGH came to me right then and there. I started taking sign-language classes and read everything I could find on deafness and the deaf community. I knew no deaf people then and know only two or three now. When I read at Books and Books this past January, lots of people from Miami's deaf community came. They were very kind to me and my feeble attempts to sign. The highlight of the evening was my friend Mary Ellen Tracy, who interpreted for me. The hearing loved seeing what I read signed, and the staff at Books and Books had a little epiphany of their own. Deaf people can attend readings. Duh!

SPW: I read that the memory of the child Belinda who was abused was part of the inspiration for the novel. What was your inspiration for Joey Willis, the deaf character who goes against her mother’s wishes and learns sign language?

GR: As I said, I'd been reading a lot about deafness and was soon aware of the oralist vs. signing controversy. Personally, I believe in opening every door of opportunity. The more options a child has, the better his/her chance of success. I think parents who opt for the oral-only education are trying to ensure their child has all the doors open. As hearing people with a deaf child, they perhaps fail to see how much it means to all of us to know that they aren't --hearing or deaf. I adopted this struggle for Joey. There was no one I knew who was my inspiration for her and yet nearly everyone I know could be. We all overcome some disability, physical, mental, or emotional. Who isn't Joey on some level? How she became deaf was Belinda's legacy.

SPW: What kind of research did you do in order to make Joey’s character appear like a real deaf child?

GR: Tons! And I'm so grateful for your phrasing. I was terrified that as a hearing person I would get some aspect wrong. I'm still scared-silly that I did. There are 12 books in my library by deaf and/or hearing on the subject. I read them all once or twice. I continued to take sign, though shortly after I moved to Fort Bragg, it became impossible since the woman who taught it moved away. I made numerous trips to the California School for the Deaf and had an early manuscript vetted by a teacher there. It was also vetted by an English professor at Gallaudet. You probably know her. Tonya Stremlau.

SPW: In many ways it is probably difficult to tell this story since it includes abuse and neglect. What do you hope young people learn from this story?

GR: Responsibility. Animal and child abuse are our problems. I want them to recognize it when they see it and to see it when it's there. I want them to become sensitive to the suffering of others. I've received the most astonishing letters from kids who GOT IT. (The most poignant is on my website.) They have expressed interest in learning to sign, and want to help protect animals from research abuses. Their letters are my reward.

SPW: What advice would you give to young people who are reading your books for the first time?

GR: [Read] with an open heart, but that will sound dorky. There are some horrible things going on in the world. They are overwhelming sometimes, but if we just do the right thing in our own little corner, our school, with our friends, then that is where fixing what's wrong starts. I hope HGH empowers them. Read it knowing that you have the power.

SPW: Is there anything that you would like to add?

GR: I write back to anyone who writes me. is my preferred address for mail from kids. Thank you for selecting Hurt Go Happy for inclusion.

For more information about Ginny Rorby and her inspirations for this story, visit:

Thursday, June 21, 2007

New Books Updated

Listening to Mondrian by Nadia Wheatley (not yet published)
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Allen & Unwin (December 1, 2007)
ISBN-10: 1741148758

Listening to Mondrian is a collection of short stories focusing on adolescents and their diverse family relationships. The characters analyze who they are and how they fit into their families, their communities, and the world. One short story includes a CODA (child of Deaf Adults) page 136 entitled "Alien".

Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson (2007)
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
ISBN-10: 0399239898

Set in 1971, main character, Frannie, enjoys analyzing Emily Dickinson's poem, "Hope is the thing with feathers/ that perches in the soul". When a new boy enters the school, the class bully nicknames him "Jesus Boy" because of his pale skin and long hair (and because the new student is the only white student in the classroom).

Frannie's brother, Sean, is deaf and uses sign language throughout the novel. The book covers issues such as the Vietnam War, adolescents' questions about God, issues of racial segregation and deafness.

The Mammoth Book of Golden Age SF: Ten Classic Stories from the Birth of Modern Science Fiction Writing by Isaac Asimov (Editor), Charles G. Waugh (Editor), Martin H. Greenberg (Editor) Paperback: 512 pages
Publisher: Carroll & Graf (2007)
ISBN-10: 0786719052

This is an anthology of classic Science Fiction stories. One of which, "E for Effort", includes deaf characters from the Arizona School for the Deaf. The emphasis is on their amazing lipreading abilities.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Interview with Professor/ Author JEAN ANDREWS, PH.D.

PROFESSOR/AUTHOR JEAN ANDREWS, PH.D. BELOW **************************************************************

Dr. Jean F. Andrews is the coordinator of graduate programs in Deaf Studies/Deaf Education within the Department of Deaf Studies/Deaf Education at Lamar University in Beaumont, TX. She has served on the governance board at the Texas School for the Deaf (TSD) in Austin, Texas and has been on the editorial board of the American Annals of the Deaf since 1986. Dr. Andrews began her career teaching at the Maryland School for the Deaf, I have conducted research in more than ten residential schools. On her website, she explains, “Like many of my colleagues, I recognize the value of the rich linguistic and cultural environments that well-run state schools for the deaf and large day programs that can provide full access to the dual languages: ASL and English.” Dr. Andrews is the author of the Flying Fingers Series which includes The Flying Fingers Club (1988); Secret in the Dorm Attic (1990); Hasta Luego, San Diego (1991); The Ghost of Tomahawk Creek (1993); and Mystery of the Totems (2001).

(picture of husband Jim and author Jean Andrews, Ph.D.)
SPW: How did you decide to become a teacher of the Deaf? Did you grow up with Deaf people?

JA: I went to college in Washington, DC and majored in English literature. I took an ASL class in my senior year at Gallaudet University nearby and was intrigued by the language. I went to McDaniel College (formerly Western Md College) and got my degree in deaf ed. I became immersed in the Deaf culture there. My first job was as a reading teacher at the Maryland School for the Deaf.

SPW: I recall reading that the Deaf Community played an important part of your research for writing the Flying Fingers Club Series. Can you explain your inspiration for the book?

JA: My classmates at McDaniel's, my colleagues at MSD and deaf students there and the deaf students I worked with in KY and in TX. I have many deaf colleagues around the country who I enjoy working on projects with. Deaf graduate students are a "source of inspiration and ideas" too.

SPW: Did you face any challenges as a hearing author writing about Deaf children?

JA: Yes its hard to adopt a "deaf voice" when you are hearing. Your "hearingness" naturally leaks through. That is why I always check my ideas with deaf colleagues and students. They are always very frank with me!

SPW: What advice would you give to young people who are reading your books for the first time?

JA: Read, read, read and read. It will open many doors for will provide you with many more experiences than you can get in a usual lifetime. I like to read the newspaper in the morning, professional books at work and I read lots of fiction and non-fiction in the evenings and on weekends and on vacations. I love to read book reviews in Sunday newspapers and also browse at Barnes and Noble. I love used book stores too in cities when I travel...New Orleans has some good does Houston.SPW: What are your plans for writing another book in the series?

SPW: What are your plans for writing another book in the series?

JA: I am not writing a Flying Fingers club book now...I finished five of them ( and have published them on a CD as some of them are out of print. Research with students on language and literacy keeps me pretty busy these days. But I still like to write fiction and a story idea is always running through my head. Right now I am writing a magazine article on a famous deaf lifeguard named LeRoy Colombo. He attended the Texas School for the Deaf. I visit TSD a lot as I am a strong supporter of residential schools for the deaf and we have many Lamar students who go there to work when they graduate. LeRoy lived in Galveston Island from 1905 to 1974 and saved more than 900 people. I hope to turn this article into a book eventually. TSD named their natatorium* after LeRoy Colombo.

((*Natatorium= A building constructed for the purpose of housing a swimming pool and related equipment.))

Monday, June 18, 2007

Upcoming Book & Play// Interview with Author DOUG COONEY

**************************************************************** ****************************************************************

Leading Ladies (November 2007-- not yet released)
By Marlee Matlin and Doug Cooney
Hardcover Publication Date: November 2007
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing,
288 pages
ISBN-10: 0-689-86987-8
Ages: 8 - 12; Grades: 3 - 7

Keep checking my blog for more information on this upcoming book by deaf author Marlee Matlin and author/playright Doug Cooney. While you're waiting for this book to be released, check out the Kennedy Center to see Nobody's Perfect adapted into a bilingual musical. Tickets are not yet on sale. Click 'Kennedy Center' below to reach the ticket information page. Kennedy Center Family Theater Productions: Nobody's Perfect Co-Commission and co-production with VSA arts October 17 - November 3, 2007 Book by Marlee Matlin and Doug Cooney, Adapted for the stage by Doug Cooney, Music by Deborah Wicks.
The main character, Megan, will be performed by a 10 year old Deaf girl, fluent in American Sign Language. This musical is performed in both spoken English and American Sign Language.


Interview with Doug Cooney, co-author of Nobody’s Perfect

Below I've included an interview with author/playwright Doug Cooney. I appreciate all of the time he devouted to this interview considering he has one of the busiest schedules and a young child! He has written screenplays for SONY Pictures and Nickelodeon, television scripts for the Disney Channel and the Discovery Channel, and still finds time to participate in educational outreach programs within the community. Another great irony is that Doug Cooney attended the University of Virginia... If you (the reader of this blog) recall my Lois Hodge interview, I contacted her through her granddaughter, Emily-- one of my peers at the University of Virginia. So WaHooWa and enjoy this interview.

SPW: How did you get involved with writing this book with Marlee Matlin?

DC: David Gale, my editor at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, approached me about working with Marlee, based partly on the success of my earlier books and also because he was aware of my prior work in the disabled community through Very Special Art Florida. In the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, I wrote a theatre piece with disabled students mainstreamed at three different middle schools throughout Dade County about their experience of that storm. All of our dancers were deaf, and the cast was comprised of kids with learning disabilities, wheelchair-users, autistic kids -- we had between 35 and 55 kids in the performance and it ran the gamut. In performance, it became abundantly clear that these particular kids had coping skills out the wazoo -- which became deeply moving to audiences still devastated by the impact of Hurricane Andrew. The work toured Florida for two years -- received a commendation from the state -- and eventually was brought to the International Very Special Arts Festival in Brussels where they performed at the National Museum of the Netherlands. LONG STORY SHORT, I was well-acquainted with the particularly wry verve and spirit of the disabled community -- and David Gale knew that I'd be enthusiastic (and not intimidated) by the prospects of collaborating with Marlee. Marlee and I met for lunch -- we liked each other immediately -- and we got to work.

SPW: From your email you mentioned working with two deaf children in a school performance of the Wizard of Oz and now the musical version of Nobody’s Perfect. How did you begin working/ meeting deaf people?

DC: Oops. I guess I just answered that question. I should clarify, however, that I didn't actually work with two deaf children in a school performance of the Wizard of Oz. I wrote about two deaf children in the school production of Wizard of Oz in LEADING LADIES, the next installment in Marlee's series of books about Megan Merrill (Marlee's 10 year old counterpart.) Marlee's first experience onstage was as Dorothy in the school production of the Wizard of Oz. In fictionalizing this story from her childhood, I added another deaf kid to the cast and sort of freely invented the production in my head. As a playwright and a lyricist of youth musicals, I have a reputation for tackling ambitious projects -- I'm known for tackling tricky subjects with high entertainment value -- so writing a musical with a deaf lead role is right up my alley.

SPW: Well that is an exciting sneak peek at the upcoming book! When did you realize that you wanted to be a writer?

DC: I tell kids that I stumbled upon an old typewriter in the closet when I was in the third grade and I've been hooked ever since. True story. But I went through college -- majored in English and Religious Studies ( i.e. 20th Century Existentialism) -- went to law school -- worked for an appellate judge and (for several years) a plaintiff's litigation firm -- and worked for Club Med for a year. I'd been writing plays all along -- during college and after -- so in my late 20's, I decided to go for broke and entered a graduate program in theatre at Trinity Rep, a regional theatre in Providence, R.I. Coming out of graduate school, I was doing a lot of solo performance art -- a way of combining my performance skills and my writing. That was when I first received commissions to write plays for young people -- something that I wasn't at all interested in at first -- but then I discovered an aptitude for it -- and I treat it as a huge responsibility. Ten years ago, maybe more, I moved to Los Angeles to write for a larger audience (through the entertainment industry). And here I am.

SPW: Was it difficult to publish your books/plays when you first began your career? What struggles did you have?

DC: Every writer has huge struggles and huge luck. I wrote a play called THE BELOVED DEARLY. My goal was to write about issues that childhood hadn't prepared me for -- and I isolated death and business as two themes. But death and business, right? Fun, fun. So I knew I had to make it a comedy to make it appealing to kids. And I stumbled upon the notion of writing a play about three kids who start a business throwing pet funerals in their neighborhood. It all snowballed from there. The play won an award while it was still in rough draft. It was staged at a small theater in New York City. A listing ran in NEW YORK magazine -- that caught the eye of David Gale at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers -- who contacted me to ask if I'd consider writing THE BELOVED DEARLY as a chapter book for middle school kids. Meanwhile, Nickelodeon was pursuing the possibility of developing THE BELOVED DEARLY as a screenplay -- which they did -- but Paramount eventually put it on the shelf. However, Paramount/Nickelodeon and Simon & Schuster were both owned by Viacom -- so there was some hefty interest in the project. It also got developed as a sitcom by Fox Family Channel but that also got shelved. Anyway, the book has done incredibly well -- and it just keep trucking. It is in its 9th printing, I believe -- and this year, THE BELOVED DEARLY was published in translation in Korea, which makes me an international author for kids. All the other opportunities have flowed from that lucky break -- but in the life of a writer, you have to constantly be a self-starter, always coming up with ideas, networking for opportunities, delivering deadlines.

SPW: What advice would you give to young people who are reading your books for the first time?

DC: I'm an Irish-American -- and I'm not exactly sure what that means except that I recognize that I like to mix a lot of humor with some serious subjects -- and that trait is not uncommon in Irish literature. I try to gain a reader's confidence by amusing them or making them laugh -- believing that once I've hooked the reader, I can lead him or her toward whatever train of thought I might be following myself. Sometimes dramatic, sometimes sentimental, sometimes nostalgic, sometimes just comedy. It's sort of a weepy thing that Irish-American families will sometimes do, chuckle through our tears.

SPW: Thanks Doug! Can you tell me a little more information about the upcoming musical adaptation of Nobody’s Perfect?

DC: You can probably learn more about NOBODY'S PERFECT, the musical adaptation, at the Kennedy Center website. The opening is tentatively scheduled for October 19, I believe, in the new family theatre facility on the main floor. Debbie Wicks LaPuma is composing the music, I am adapting the book and writing the lyrics. Coy Middlebrook (of BIG RIVER and HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL) is directing. So it's all rather a big deal. We assembled our cast a month ago -- and cast a gifted young actress [Tammi] out of the Gallaudet program in the lead. I understand that a Gallaudet theatre student will somehow be involved in costuming the show as well.

All my best -- DOUG

For more information on Doug Cooney and his work, visit:

Humble Hearts School in Kenya, Angels Covers UK-- in need of children's books with deaf characters!

I first read about the Humble Hearts School in Kenya on the International Deaf Children's Society website. I contacted Jane after reading the article hoping that I would be able to both encourage others to send books and send books with deaf characters to the children myself.

The following is some information that I learned about the school and the woman who established it.

In 2003, a teacher named Beatrice Anunda (pictured below) became aware of the needs facing deaf children living in the Sinai/Donholm (slum area of Nairobi). Many of the people in this area are not educated and superstitions about deaf children spread. The children in this area have been neglected and abused simply because they are deaf. Beatrice went around explaining to parents that their children had potential and were worth educating.

In 2004, Beatrice contacted the International Deaf Children's Society (IDCS) and soon received attention from Angel Covers. An increase in funding allowed the school to purchase a small amount of land and build a modest school building.

With commitment from the teachers and the desire of these children to learn, the school then was able to accept the hearing siblings of deaf children. Now, Humble Hearts accepts hearing children from the area. All of the children are taught Kenyan Sign Language, English and Kiswahili.

This school receives no government funding and is run entirely on donations. Only about half of the children are sponsored. Unlike the traditional model of child sponsorship, Humble Hearts sponsors come together to form a cyber PTA and "meet" on a yahoo group forum. Many of the pupils have now reached secondary level. Beatrice has purchased land for a secondary school and one of the targets for 2007 is to raise funds to build this new school. Land has also been purchased for a new Angel Cottage, an orphanage where nearly all the children in the refuge are deaf. Beatrice has taken in 35 children into her own home.

Today Humble Hearts includes 200 pupils, 18 members of staff, 14 classrooms, a library, staffroom and offices. If you would like to help with Angel Covers UK - please contact Jane, by e-mail at or by telephone at 01308 861351. At the moment, they are collecting children's books, especially books with deaf characters. Please contact Jane if you can help in any way. (Click the 'help' button to find out the numerous ways that you can help). If you simply have books that you would like to ship, click here to find out how.

When I contacted Jane she explained, "The school really is amazing and has completely changed attitudes towards deaf children in the area. These children really had zero chance of a future until Beatrice came along". Again, the school runs on a sponsorship system. It costs $20 a month. Jane is a sponsor and she writes, "It is so rewarding. A child can be sponsored by a group as well as an individual.... We have just had two new deaf children in need of urgent sponsoring. We try to get the deaf children sponsored first as their needs are greater". Humble Hearts School is fortunate to have a team of hard working and dedicated teachers who are fluent in English, Kiswahili, and Kenyan Sign Language You can sponsor a Deaf Education teacher for just $15 a month (pictures of teachers and staff pictured above). If you are a teacher yourself, then why not consider supporting one of the Humble Hearts teachers?

Angel Covers UK is a sister charity to Angel Covers in the States and both are volunteer organizations. The main focus in the UK is Humble Hearts and their orphanage/refuge, Angel Cottage...the US charity covers many other projects.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Prophecy 2007: From Hero to Legends August 2 - 5, 2007 Toronto, Canada

Prophecy 2007 is an academic symposium about the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. A variety of daytime formal programming, taking place on Friday August 3rd and Saturday August 4th will include presentations, lectures, workshops, discussion panels and roundtables on a diverse range of topics.

One particular presentation includes the connections between the Deaf World and the Harry Potter World.
Opportunities Lost, Opportunities Ignored: A Presentation/Discussion of the Educational Problems of the Reading Phenomenon in the Deaf World in and in the World of Black Students – Presentation Wendy Richardson Supported by the scholarship from within the Deaf community, we can gain a clear understanding of how deaf students achieve/ appreciate the skill of reading--and where the Harry Potter series makes an unexpected connection to the lives and philosophy of the deaf. A related question about the reading habits of students of color--Black, Latino, Asian. Did those groups find enjoyment in the HP series? Do they recognize a connection to their own school / racial experiences? There was an unsatisfying silence to these questions which prompted an independent study of the peculiar indifference of some groups of students to the Potter phenomenon.

This is not the first presentation to make such connections. See:
Czubek & Greenwald (2005). Understanding Harry Potter: Parallels to the Deaf World. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education Advance Access originally published online on July 6, 2005 The Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education 2005 10(4):442-450

Monday, June 11, 2007

Review of Nobody's Perfect

Nobody's Perfect by Marlee Matlin and Doug Cooney
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing (May 9, 2006)
Today I finished reading Nobody's Perfect by Marlee Matlin and Doug Cooney, which is a companion to Marlee Matlin's Deaf Child Crossing. Main character Megan is back with her BFF (best friend forever) Cindy but this time there aren't any summer camps for friendship triangles. Megan is busily planning for her Positively Purple Birthday Party when "the new girl" Alexis arrives at the school the very same day Megan is handing out her party invitations (purple glitter, feathers and all!). What is Megan supposed to do? Should she invite the new girl? If so, she'll need to make another invitation quickly.

Alexis appears to be pretty, smart, athletic, and pretty perfect except she doesn't seem to like Megan at all. Megan assumes that Alexis doesn't like her because she's deaf but keeps giving her more "second chances". Megan even contacts Lizzie (a Deaf character from Deaf Child Crossing through internet webcam to ask for advice). Finally when Megan plans to distance herself her teacher assigns Megan and Alexis to work together on a science fair project. The girls come up with a science experiment to test to see if school hamster, Zippity's favorite color is....(you guessed it!) Purple. They make a cardboard maze out of shoeboxes and paint the little rooms --- one is red, one is blue, and, naturally, one is purple. Their goal is to run Zippity through the maze several times and see which room he prefers. After constructing the maze, Zippity stays at Megans house but her family soon discovers that her brother is allergic to hamsters. Megan and her father drive the project and Zippity to Alexis' house for safe keeping and Alexis has a temper tantrum (finally making Megan seem a little less bratty). It turns out that Alexis' brother has autisim and Alexis is a bit embarrased by his behavior. Megan ends up teaching Justin some sign language and he is able to communicate for the very first time.

I almost always prefer the original book and not the sequel; however, Nobody's Perfect
was so much better than Matlin's first novel. Megan's character is not so one-dimensional and I actually liked that Alexis called Megan out on being bratty and self-centered. This allowed Megan to see herself for how she was acting and make positive changes.

Nobody's Perfect isn't just about purple frosting and fluff (although both of which are included). It is a charming story about friendship, difference, and perfection (or rather the lack of perfection) in each of us. If you haven't had enough of Megan and her friends just yet, don't worry. A follow-up book will be released later this year (November 2007) entitled Leading Ladies.

Hawkeye-- superhero who becomes deaf

Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye, joins Avengers. In Avengers #239, he explains how he has become deaf.

I'm now in the possession of Daredevil Vol. 11 #9-15 and Daredevil #51, 53, 54, and 55 featuring the deaf character Echo thanks to the Velocity Comics. They were super friendly and helpful in assisting me. I read through all the issues and Echo is even cooler than I could have imagined! I'll discuss what I like (and what I don't like) about her in future posts.
Am I becoming hooked on comics? Maybe.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

ASL Rose- DVD/books for Young Deaf Children & Adolescents

Two professors (Dr. Adonia K. Smith and Dr. E. Lynn Jacobowitz) have created a DVD/Book series and established a publishing company in order to interest deaf children in English. Some of the DVDs/Books include: Have You Ever Seen...? An American Sign Language Handshape; Waving Hands!!! The ABCs of American Deaf Role Models; and, Deaf Coach Now or Deaf Cinderella. While the DVD/Book might be a little pricey at $85, I guess you can't really put a price on your child's education. The website includes a preview of one of the DVDs and includes activities for children including: Color Your Favorite Deaf Hero, Pair-a-Handshape (the memory game) and a puzzle. I enjoyed the preview which clearly emphasizes a bilingual approach to teaching. Okay, I painted Laurent Clerc and played the Pair-a-Handshape a few times myself:) You can even send an e-card using the illustrations from the DVD/Books-- how cute is that!?!

Visit for more information.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

New Books Updated

Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller (2007) by Sarah Miller
Pub. Date: July 28, 2007
Age Range: 10 to 12
Hardcover: 240pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing

Most of my friends know that I'm not a big fan of books about Helen Keller. That being said, this book offers an alternative approach to the story of Helen Keller. Readers experience the life of Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller through journals written by Annie Sullivan. Readers learn about Sullivan's abusive father, her relationship with her "invalid" brother, and her experiences teaching Helen Keller.

RALLY CAPS (2007) by J. Cutler Stephen and Cutler Del Dottore Jodi
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 87 pages
Publisher: PublishAmerica (April 16, 2007)
ISBN-10: 1424173817

This story is about two boys who love baseball and who become friends through their experiences at summer camp. One of the main characters is deaf and wears a cochlear implant.

The Garden Wall (2006) by Phyllis Limbacher Tildes
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Imagination; 1 edition (February 2006)
ISBN-10: 1570914672

Okay, I know this is a bit young to be considered "adolescent" literature but something about this book struck me. Maybe it was the author's rich illustrations or knowing that her background included working as a designer for Hallmark and as an assistant art director for at Dartmouth College, or perhaps it was because I'm a sucker for those who take on the dual role of author/illustrator. Since I'm an adolescent at heart and I enjoyed her book so much... and it is my blog I'm including this one:)
Tim is unhappy about moving to a new place. He isn't sure how he will be friends with the girl next door because she is deaf! The publisher explains that this books "opens a window to the deaf experience. Young readers will discover that true communication begins with an open mind and heart". The author/illustrator includes pictures of Tim using sign language with his new friend.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Summer Reading

Kat's Fall by Shelley Hrdlitschka
publisher's recommenation: ages 9 and up (I would say this book is more suited for teens since it includes adult-content themes including sexual assault, strong language, and self-mutilation-- Darcy cuts himself when his girlfriend leaves him)
Kat is deaf and suffers from epileptic seizures. Her mother is getting out of prison after ten years for dropping Kat from a balcony when she was a baby. Older brother Darcy who is 15 hates his mother for being absent from his life ever since she went to prison for negligence. In a strange turn of events, Darcy discovers what happened the day of the fall and he realizes that he was the one who had dropped his infant sister. His mother went to prison for her son's actions. Darcy tries to do what is right by clearing his mother's name. Kat is not the only deaf character in the story. Darcy babysits a four-year-old deaf child. The story takes an additional twist when Darcy is accused of molesting the little girl he baby-sits and his sister. It is with the help of his teacher and his mom that his name is cleared. While there are deaf characters in this book, the story is told from Darcy's perspective.

More on Deaf Characters in Comics and Graphic Novels

Hear-Say by Greg Cook (mini-comics format)

Hear-Say follows a nearly-deaf gentleman through a seemingly average day, including friendly interactions over a gaming table and a restaurant meal. When the man ends up on the shore, he pulls out a hornhorn to use as a hearing aid. Readers gets to view the added "sound elements" through the use of empty word balloons. Cook plays with white space and incomplete drawing emphasizing our own incomplete worlds that we try to piece together.

Dan Slott's She-Hulk comics character Awesome Andy is "mute" and communicates with other characters via a chalkboard... but isn't a "deaf" character.

The deaf villain Shriek, who uses sound as his weapon, is wreaking havoc on Gotham City. When Shriek’s stone-splitting sound vibrations. Batman has to save a young deaf boy from a falling rock.

Deaf Characters in Comics

I found a website that discusses the portrayals of Deaf Characters in comics. The Vidarland site explains, "main characters in comics are usually flawless". The site then discribes different artists' portrayals of deaf and hard of hearing characters including Donal Duck, Professor Calculus, and Gaston Lagaffe. This site shows the use of lipreading and sign language, including the sign language used by American Indians, in comics. The author of this site also explains Norwegian for those of us who don't know the language. To print out the article: