Saturday, November 12, 2011

CODA author Kambri Crews, Burn Down the Ground:A Memoir (2012)

Burn Down the Ground: A Memoir by Kambri Crews
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Villard (February 28, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0345516028
ISBN-13: 978-0345516022  

Book Description
Publication Date: February 28, 2012
In this powerful, affecting, and unflinching memoir, a daughter looks back on her unconventional childhood with deaf parents in rural Texas while trying to reconcile it to her present life—one in which her father is serving a twenty-year sentence in a maximum-security prison.
As a child, Kambri Crews wished that she’d been born deaf so that she, too, could fully belong to the tight-knit Deaf community that embraced her parents. Her beautiful mother was a saint who would swiftly correct anyone’s notion that deaf equaled dumb. Her handsome father, on the other hand, was more likely to be found hanging out with the sinners. Strong, gregarious, and hardworking, he managed to turn a wild plot of land into a family homestead complete with running water and electricity. To Kambri, he was Daniel Boone, Frank Lloyd Wright, Ben Franklin, and Elvis Presley all rolled into one.

But if Kambri’s dad was Superman, then the hearing world was his kryptonite. The isolation that accompanied his deafness unlocked a fierce temper—a rage that a teenage Kambri witnessed when he attacked her mother, and that culminated fourteen years later in his conviction for another violent crime.

With a smart mix of brutal honesty and blunt humor, Kambri Crews explores her complicated bond with her father—which begins with adoration, moves to fear, and finally arrives at understanding—as she tries to forge a new connection between them while he lives behind bars.
Burn Down the Ground is a brilliant portrait of living in two worlds—one hearing, the other deaf; one under the laid-back Texas sun, the other within the energetic pulse of New York City; one mired in violence, the other rife with possibility—and heralds the arrival of a captivating new voice.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Wonderstruck A Novel in Words and Pictures by Brian Selznick

Wonderstruck A Novel in Words and Pictures by Brian Selznick

637 pp. (Middle grade; ages 9 to 12)
Publisher: Scholastic Press (September 13, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0545027896

Brian Selznick is the illustrator of "Frindle" by Andrew Clements, and the author of "The Houdini Box," winner of the 1993 Texas Bluebonnet Award.

Banjo on writes that the book "features at least two Deaf characters. Carol Padden and Tom Humphries, two Deaf scholars helped the author fine-tune the experience of the Deaf Culture to ensure that it was true to the core."
Thanks to Nancy C. for pointing out the NY Times Review A Deaf Boy’s New York Quest. Review
Amazon Best Books of the Month, September 2011: In a return to the eye-popping style of his Caldecott-award winner,The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick’s latest masterpiece, Wonderstruck, is a vision of imagination and storytelling . In the first of two alternating stories, Ben is struck deaf moments after discovering a clue to his father’s identity, but undaunted, he follows the clue’s trail to the American Museum of Natural History, in New York City. Flash to Rose’s story, told simultaneously through pictures, who has also followed the trail of a loved one to the museum--only 50 years before Ben. Selnick’s beautifully detailed illustrations draw the reader inside the museum’s myriad curiosities and wonders, following Ben and Rose in their search for connection. Ultimately, their lives collide in a surprising and inspired twist that is breathtaking and life-affirming. --Seira Wilson

Scholastic also offers an educator's guide.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Interview with author Karla Oceanak Dumbstruck (The Aldo Zelnick Comic Novel Series)

Dumbstruck (The Aldo Zelnick Comic Novel Series) by Karla Oceanak is the fourth book in an A-to-Z alphabet series which includes a vocabulary-building glossary of words starting with the letter D including words such as debacle, doofus, and defenestrate. I was a bit worried at first that the d’s would take over and the reader would miss the storyline while obsessing over all of the emphasized letters. Instead, I found myself actually relying on the *.   This isn’t Karla Oceanak’s first book so I was a little surprised when she wrote that she was a bit nervous with me being “professor at Gallaudet”. She has no idea that I strike poses in the hall (with my colleagues, I might add) and make silly facial expressions to everyone. I will admit that I was a bit nervous about the title. I do pass judgment and oftentimes I am wrong. So when the author explained, “I tried hard to educate myself about deaf culture, and a teacher to deaf and hard of hearing students here in Fort Collins reviewed the manuscript and helped me make some changes”, I was pretty sure I was going to enjoy the book even if the Deaf Character was a minor character.
I read nearly half of the book on my train ride home and got starred at by fellow passengers for laughing… and maybe snorting. The main character, Aldo, is funny and weird. I can’t imagine anyone not laughing throughout. And although witty, Aldo is a typical adolescent. He makes up words and phrases and sometimes uses nouns as verbs (i.e. He sign-languaged… and, Englishy things).
Deaf Character Danny is the new kid in school and I loved that Karla Oceanak let him be just as sarcastic and devious as the hearing characters. Danny communicates through ASL, texting, and a little bit of lipreading. He uses an interpreter for his classes and some of the other characters learn sign language because of him. Danny is probably cooler than the other characters but that is because of his Justin Bieber-ish hair rather than his deafness. I will defend Aldo and say that he too is pretty cool but in a nerdy way. I say that because like his friends he plays D&D (Dungeons & Dragons). Considering I date a 42-year old Dungeon Master, Aldo is pretty awesome in my book.
I understood all the signs the author described and I liked that Danny wasn’t super nice to Aldo (i.e. calls him a loser and I think STUPID in ASL) which is perfect because it shows he's a typical adolescent!
Since I mentioned my initial concern for the title, I will point out that the use of dumbstruck is explained on page 124. It has everything to do with the plot (that I’d rather not give away) and nothing to do with Danny or his deafness. In fact, the label “deaf and dumb” is explained to be archaic and even what it originally meant (i.e. the multiple meanings of dumb).
My favorite quote is on page 84. One character Goosy explains, “Life is mostly in the doing, anyway, not in the having. Besides, not everything we do in life deserves to be on display, Aldo.” What a great lesson for young people (and old) in this age of social networking sites and total disclosure. “Most things are destined for the junk pile.” With that, Aldo focuses on what is important.

Be sure to look at the D Gallery at the back of the book and the page with "Other Handy Signs".
******Check out my interview with author Karla Oceanak and look for Dumbstruck in stores on October 1st.***** (RIGHT: author during her middle-grade years)
SP: Aside from the Alphabetical focus on the letter D, how did you decide to include a deaf character?
KO: The Aldo Zelnick books take their theme from the title. We try to come up with a fun and evocative word for the title...then I challenge myself to create a plot that resonates with the title. The word “dumbstruck” stirred images of Aldo and his first crush, but it also made me think about what it means to be able to communicate. Introducing a deaf character helped me explore that idea.
SP: What type of research did you do for the book to make your characters realistic? Your Acknowledgments mentions that you worked with Cathy Bowles a teacher of the deaf?
KO: Cathy Bowles is a teacher for the deaf and hard of hearing at a center-based program at McGraw Elementary here in our local school districit—Poudre School District in Fort Collins, Colorado. I contacted Cathy, who has been a teacher for the deaf for 18 years and before that was a freelance interpreter and university-level interpreter, after I had decided to include a new deaf character in Dumbstruck. Cathy is hearing but in addition to her work, has many deaf friends and is connected with the deaf community here in Fort Collins. I always do lots of reading and research for my books, and in this case I also wanted to talk to someone who works with deaf children. It was important to me to accurately portray Danny. I didn’t want to pander to him, but I also didn’t want to make any big missteps. I observed several times in Cathy’s classroom, and I also asked Cathy lots of questions. She suggested I watch several documentaries, which I did. She was also gracious enough to review the manuscript and suggest small but important changes here and there. I want to thank her for making me feel comfortable writing a character that at first seemed a bit daunting to me.
SP: Several of the illustrations include signs and you actually explained a few in the text. Do you know any deaf people or have you learned American Sign Language?
KO: My earliest memory of ASL is from grade school. A classmate of mine was a hearing girl with two deaf parents. She taught us to sign the alphabet and made me aware of different ways of communicating. Later I studied Spanish and French, and of course I love English. I guess I’m just enamored of languages in general, including sign language (although I haven’t studied it). I don’t know any deaf people, but perhaps I will meet some as a result of this book.
SP: What do you hope that readers will learn or take away from the book?
KO: My passion is keeping kids reading. I want them to realize that reading is fun—not a school chore—so that they’ll become lifelong readers. So as with all my books, my biggest hope is that they’ll find Dumbstruck fun to read! I also hope that they’ll learn to have empathy for people who may not be like them. After all, we’re all the same inside.
SP: What advice would you give to young people who are reading your books for the first time?
KO: Reading is your ticket to whatever you want to do in life. Did you know that when you read, your brain develops new pathways and physically changes? The more you read, the better your language skills become and the better you can communicate with others. But what’s really amazing to me is that the more you read, the more developed your brain gets, and that helps you with every single thing you do in life. If you think you’re not a reader, it’s just that you haven’t yet found the right books for you. They’re out there. Keep looking, keep reading, and ask your teachers and librarians for help.
SP: Anything you would like to add....
KO: Thanks for introducing Dumbstruck to the deaf and hearing communities via your blog! Besides being a bit of a smart-aleck , Danny is quite I look forward to seeing how many girls out there, like Aldo in Dumbstruck, develop crushes of their own.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Secondary Deaf Character in The Aldo Zelnick Comic Novel Series

Dumbstruck (The Aldo Zelnick Comic Novel Series) by Karla Oceanak
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 160 pages
Publisher: Bailiwick Press (October 1, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1934649163

Product Description
Ten-year-old Aldo lives with his family in Colorado. He's not athletic like his older brother; he's not a rock hound like his best friend; and he is none too fond of the outdoors—but that doesn't mean he doesn't have a passion. Aldo is passionate about bacon. Back at school adjusting to life in the 5th grade, Aldo is embarrassed about his artistic abilities. He has always underplayed his creative talent at school; but when he is around his cute new art teacher he suddenly finds himself behaving strangely. He loses the ability to speak when she’s around, volunteers to skip recess so he can clean paintbrushes, and finds himself working harder than ever before in a daring attempt to win the school art contest. The humorous plot and lively drawings in this book will captivate both enthusiastic and reluctant young readers who will identify with Aldo's all-too-familiar predicaments. This fourth installment in an A-to-Z alphabet series features a vocabulary-building glossary of fun and challenging words starting with the letter D, such as debacle, doofus, and defenestrate.

I just received a copy of this book today from the author and am looking forward to reading it. This is the fourth book in the series and will be published this October. A new secondary character named Danny is introduced. Danny is deaf. I quickly flipped through the book. Since it is written as a comic, I was able to see a few signs illustrated so I'm assuming Danny knows sign language. We'll see:) A book review and an interview with the author will be posted soon (eeek! My semester is off to a very busy start!)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Tribes Coming September 2011

Tribes by Nina Raine
Paperback: 96 pages
Publisher: Nick Hern Books (September 13, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1848421214
ISBN-13: 978-1848421219

Product Description
In Billy's family you can be as rude as you like, as possessive as you like, as critical as you like. Arguments are an expression of love, right? But Billy, who is deaf, is the only one who actually listens. When he meets Sylvia, he decides he finally wants to be heard.

Kicking Up Dirt: A True Story of Determination, Deafness, and Daring (June 2011)

Kicking Up Dirt: A True Story of Determination, Deafness, and Daring by Ashley Fiolek & Caroline Ryder

Product Description
At nineteen, Ashley Fiolek is already the top female competitor in a tough men's sport: motocross, one of the most dangerous extreme sports in the world. Since going pro in late 2007, Fiolek has taken gold at the X Games, twice won the American Women's Motocross Championship, and become the first woman in American motocross history to be signed to a factory team—the highest echelon of industry backing. These remarkable achievements seem even more extraordinary because Fiolek was born profoundly deaf, a handicap that makes everyday life difficult . . . and competition on the track downright treacherous.

But Fiolek has never let her disability stand in the way of her dreams, nor has she allowed her gender to limit her career. One of the sport's most talked-about stars, she's changing the way the industry views women. Kicking Up Dirt is the remarkable true story of Ashley Fiolek's ride to greatness—the inspiring tale of a courageous young woman's determination to succeed in the face of truly challenging obstacles.

Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: It Books; Reprint edition (June 7, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0061946486
ISBN-13: 978-0061946486

Just added to my Kindle for $2.99-- The Inbetweener


Product Description

Tima is a teenager with a disability. She is deaf and the tales in this series explores her journey of acceptance. Tima always felt that people regarded being deaf as a lesser disability. Hm, ……, What did they know!! The irony is that Tima is deaf, but also perfectly oral. Therein lies the confusion for those around her. Yes. Tima is a in-betweener.

Format: Kindle Edition
Publisher: AFOLAKE O AKINFE; 1 edition (June 13, 2011)

Just added to my Kindle for .99-- Interpreter for the Deaf

Interpreter for the Dead, by David Lee Martin

Product Description
Master thief Michael Dane lands in jail after being snared by the FBI. During his stint he learns his deaf father has died, and he is the sole inheritor of land worth millions outside Boulder, Colorado.

Released on bail, he returns to the home he swore he'd never go back to. Michael Dane soon discovers his father's death was no accident and finds he now has two choices: dig through the broken pieces of an abusive past to solve his father's murder or become a fugitive.

Format: Kindle Edition
Publisher: David L. Martin (2011)

This is an adult novel that may be appropriate for mature teen readers.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

New YA Book with a Signing Deaf Character-- out in 5 Days!

It's important to know that I'm not dead just because I haven't posted on my blog since... eeek, January? Really? Yikes. It has been an extremely busy semester. I have two books that I need to write blurbs about and an author interview waiting and...and...there are three weeks left to this semester and everyone is under a great deal of pressure!
Speaking of pressure, the same can be said for this author who in 5 days will have her book released to the masses.  I haven't read the book yet but it looks pretty interesting. She has already published one novel, BREAK, which was included on the ALA's 2010 list of Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults. Hannah (the author... I can call her that because YA authors are cool like that!) wrote me and said that the main character's youngest brother is Deaf and uses "ASL" with his family members. Hannah also happen to mention that she took some ASL classes at Gallaudet. As soon as I read the book, I'll interview her and find out all of her secrets. For now, check out the author's AMAZON page and look for her book soon.  

Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse; Original edition (April 19, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1442407514

Product Description
Noah’s happier than I’ve seen him in months. So I’d be an awful brother to get in the way of that. It’s not like I have some relationship with Melinda. It was just a kiss. Am I going to ruin Noah’s happiness because of a kiss?
Across four sun-kissed, drama-drenched summers at his family’s beach house, Chase is falling in love, falling in lust, and trying to keep his life from falling apart. But some girls are addictive....

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

On the Odd Hours

On the Odd Hours (Louvre Collection), Eric Liberge
Reading level: Ages 9-12

Paperback: 71 pages
Publisher: ComicsLit (April 2010)
ISBN-10: 1561635774

Bastien is deaf and uses sign language to communicate.
From Booklist
Like Nicolas Crecy’s Glacial Period (2007) and Marc-Antoine Mathieu’s The Museum Vaults (2008), the third Louvre-sponsored graphic novel is a fantasy, though set in the present, not the future. A guard accosts burly young Bastien—head shaved except for a forelock and goatee—eating within the hallowed gallery. Conveying that he is deaf, Bastien scribbles a note explaining he has an appointment there. Humiliated, he stomps off before his story’s fully checked. But a wizened Chinese man signs to him. The old man, a guard himself and also deaf, is the person Bastien had to meet all along. He expects Bastien to succeed him in watching over the souls of the artworks, which escape canvas, stone, and metal during the odd hours of deep night. Despite misgivings and his girlfriend’s overbearing caretaking, Bastien decides the job’s the perfect fit for him. Virtuosically rendered by Liberge, who merges elegant clear-line figuration, expressionistic pastel coloration, and in the odd-hours sequences, superimposition effects, Bastien’s story powerfully expresses the frustrations of deep hearing impairment and the irrepressible life of great art. --Ray Olson

Broken Voices

I just came across this book today and look forward to reading it. Be sure to visit the author's website.

Broken Voices, Winona Rasheed
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 68 pages
Publisher: New Line Press (June 23, 2010)
ISBN-10: 1892851326

Main character Ella uses sign language and speaks to communicate
Product Description
Moving from one city to another as a freshmen student attending a new high school has its qualms. However, the situation becomes even more difficult and intense when the new student has a secret that she tries to hide from her classmates. 13-year-old Ella Rose from Savannah Georgia appears to be normal at one glance, until she speaks or tries to communicate. Unlike everyone else at Manchester High School in Washington DC, Ella Rose Abbot is different, and it will take more than the standard school uniform to make her feel that she fits in and belongs with the rest of the students, despite her secret. However, as Ella finds out, some situations are not easily hidden, turning one small bad situation into a mountain of chaotic problems as you try to hide the obvious. Broken Voices is an encouraging story that takes you inside a different world, the world of the handicapped and people with broken voices and impaired hearing. Editorial Review: "Ella Rose Abbot begins her first day of high school full of self-doubt and then triumphs over the day. Ella, a deaf girl, signs, writes, and speaks with "a broken voice," as it turns out, very beautifully. "Broken Voices" is a story that will lift you up and make you feel better about the world." --Kris Harpster