Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Children's Book: It's Called Deafness

"It's Called Deafness"
I Am Deaf (Live and Learn Series) by Jennifer Moore-Mallinos (Author), Marta Fabrega (Illustrator)
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Barron's Educational Series (March 1, 2009)

Product Description

Titles in the Live and Learn series take a child’s point of view--especially the view of children who either suffer from some physical challenge or lack self-confidence in going about their everyday activities. This book describes challenges that hearing-impaired children face, and how one child overcomes them to live a normal, happy life. This attractively illustrated picture storybook series encourages kids to understand themselves and overcome problems that have troubled them. Following each story are four pages of suggested activities that relate to the book’s theme. A final two-page section offers advice to parents. Live and Learn titles are available in both English and Spanish language editions. This is an English language title.

SPW Note: The title is listed as I Am Deaf but the picture on the book calls it It's Called Deafness. Not sure which one is correct... Seems a little confusing to me.

Children's book: Alexander Graham Bell: Setting the Tone for Communication

Alexander Graham Bell: Setting the Tone for Communication (Getting to Know the World's Greatest Inventors and Scientists) (2008) by Mike Venezia
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Children's Press(CT)
The reprint edition (coming in March 2009) is much cheaper because it is in paperback.

This book is a part of a series, Getting to Know the World's Greatest Inventors and Scientists.

Picture Book: Kids from Critter Cove with Deaf Character

Kids from Critter Cove by Merilee Dodson (Author), Terril Gregor (Illustrator)
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 44 pages
Publisher: PublishAmerica (October 29, 2007)

Product Description
When a small group of special needs characters are joined by a newcomer on the way to school, they find themselves in a worrisome situation. The newcomer’s “perceived” misbehavior, and the events that follow, teach a valuable lesson about making assumptions regarding those who are different from us.

Hoop the Hare is the Deaf Rabbit-character. My favorite line is on page 39, "Just because you can't understand me, that doesn't mean that I don't know what I'm saying, and don't assume that deaf means less smart". The purpose of this book is to teach children about people who are different or who have disabilities.

Young Adult Deaf Characters (YADC) Fall 2008 Newsletter

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Secondary Deaf Character in A Drowned Maiden's Hair: A Melodrama by Laura Amy Schlitz

Thanks to librarian Ann G. from New York for sharing this book with me. Ann explains that while the Deaf Character isn't the main character, she plays a pivotal role in the story. I just added bought this book from Amazon and look forward to reading it.

A Drowned Maiden's Hair: A Melodrama by Laura Amy Schlitz
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Candlewick (2006)

Book Description
Maud Flynn is known at the orphanage for her impertinence, so when the charming Miss Hyacinth and her sister choose Maud to take home with them, the girl is as baffled as anyone. It seems the sisters need Maud to help stage elaborate séances for bereaved, wealthy patrons. As Maud is drawn deeper into the deception, playing her role as a "secret child," she is torn between her need to please and her growing conscience -- until a shocking betrayal makes clear just how heartless her so-called guardians are. Filled with tantalizing details of turn-of-the-century spiritualism and page-turning suspense, this lively historical novel features a winning heroine whom readers will not soon forget.
A feisty orphan is taken in by a band of phony spiritualists in this intriguing, engaging novel.

Author Description
Laura Amy Schlitz, the author of the Newbery Medal winner, GOOD MASTERS! SWEET LADIES!: VOICES FROM A MEDIEVAL VILLAGE, has spent most of her life working as a librarian and professional storyteller. She has also written plays for young people that have been performed in professional theaters all over the country. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

The Deaf Character, Muffet, is a secondary character who communicates with "signs".
Thanks again Ann!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Books I'll be watching for....

"Vignettes of the Deaf Character": And Other Plays by Willy Conley
Gallaudet University Press; 1st Edition edition (May 15, 2009)

Product Description
Twelve of Deaf master playwright Willy Conley feature deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing characters created from the Deaf perspective.
Willy Conley is a Professor in the Theatre Arts Department at Gallaudet University, Washington, DC.

I Fill This Small Space: The
Writings of a Deaf Activist
(Deaf Lives Series) by Lawrence Newman
Gallaudet University Press; 1st Edition edition (April 15, 2009)
Product Description
This collection features the best articles and poems by Deaf activist and 1968 California Teacher of the Year on subjects ranging from communication and language to humorous insights on his own activities.

Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John
A deaf seventeen-year-old manages her high school rock band to both humorous and devastating effect, will be published by Dial (2010). Thanks Julie K!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Deaf Character book selected to be on the Virginia Young Readers' Choice List

Congratulations to Myron Uhlberg! His picture book Dad, Jackie, and Me has been selected to be on the Virginia Young Readers’ Choice list for 2009-2010. This children’s choice award is sponsored by the Virginia State Reading Association. Winners will be announced officially in May 2010.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

ALAN Breakfast speaker, Sharon Creech and her CODA character

The last few weeks have been increasingly hectic with the end of the semester approaching. I arrived home late Sunday night and didn't have time to post anything about the wonderful time I had at the ALAN Breakfast at the NCTE Convention in San Antonio, Texas.
Laurie Halse Anderson, (pictured left) author of Speak, was presented with the 2008 ALAN Award. She was absolutely hysterical making fun of some of the required reading that was forced to read in school. She mentioned The Scarlet Letter and made a horrible face. Following her award, the ALAN breakfast speaker, Sharon Creech (pictured right) delivered her inspiring message about reaching students like a young Laurie Halse Anderson. Creech is the best-selling author of the Newbery Medal winner Walk Two Moons, and the Newbery Honor Book The Wanderer. She is also the first American in history to be awarded the CILIP Carnegie Medal for Ruby Holler. During the breakfast, she spoke about her book, Love That Dog. The first time I read Love That Dog I cried... the story is that good. Creech's recent book, Hate That Cat: A Novel, picks up another year of Jack's life with teacher Miss Stretchberry. The exciting thing is... and it was a shocker for me during her presentation... Creech gives us more information about main character Jack's life. Readers even discover that Jack is a CODA- his mother is Deaf and uses sign language to communicate! Can you imagine how excited I was sitting at the ALAN Breakfast and finding out about a Deaf Character being added to her recent novel?!? I love how life is full of surprises. Jack's mother is a minor character but still....

Hate That Cat: A Novel by Sharon Creech
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 160 pages
Publisher: Joanna Cotler (September 23, 2008)
ISBN-10: 0061430927

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Need another reason to join ALAN? Try FREE books!!!

Joan Kaywell just sent a reminder that the ALAN WORKSHOP in SAN ANTONIO is right around the corner. Read an excerpt from her email below. Even if you can't make it to this year's meeting, you may want to consider joining. The application is attached below in SlideShare.

You won’t want to miss the annual ALAN Workshop, occurring on November 24-25 in San Antonio, TX. There is still room available but now you’ll have to register on site. The cost of the two-day workshop is practically nothing when one considers that you receive a year’s membership and a free box of books! Seeing and hearing the authors’ presentations is worth it even if there were no freebies. But for those registered, here’s a little information about the packet of books that you will be receiving as a registrant for the ALAN workshop:

This package will be a box (16” x 16” x 12”) that will weigh approximately 30-35 lbs.

Alan Membership Form

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YouTube Video- Rally Caps

RALLY CAPS - A fun baseball story

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Adolescent Literature & the Presidential Elections

The closer we come to Election Day, the more talk there is in the media about the Presidential Elections. Everywhere I go people are discussing the candidates and talking about change. I believe that voting is not only our right as citizens but our responsibility. This week I encourage you to try to include adolescents in your discussions. They don't necessarily need to know every detail about the economy, health care, and the war but they do need to be involved in the importance of elections.

Why not introduce your favorite adolescents to Megan McDonald's Changes for Julie (American Girls Collection) (2007).

The main character Julie is sent to detention for passing a note to Deaf Character Joy, a new student who has trouble understanding what their teacher is saying. When Julie is sent to detention for passing the note, she is determined to change the rules for detention and the system itself. Julie runs for Student Body President while Joy runs for Student Body Vice President.

This book offers an uncanny parallel to our U.S. elections. The characters discuss their principles and concerns for electing someone who is a little "different" (the student body has never had a Deaf girl who "talks a little funny" and uses Sign Language as their VP before).
Want to know more about the author? Visit one of my earlier posts with an interview with Megan McDonald.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

CODA Character in At Face Value

At Face Value (October 2008) by Emily Franklin
Paperback: 264 pages
Publisher: Flux

Linus', a staff writer at the Word, has a father who is deaf. Linus teaches main character Cyrie sign language and the two use it throughout the book.

Product Description
You've never seen a nose as big as mine. In this modern love story, Cyrano de Bergerac is reinvented as a brilliant and funny seventeen-year-old ...girl. A tennis champion, straight-A student, and editor of the school paper, Cyrie Bergerac has learned to live with her (ahem) peculiar proboscis. And she's got an armoury of witty retorts for every schnozz joke that comes her way. But despite her talents and charm, Cyrie is convinced that no guy-hot or otherwise-would deem her crush-worthy.Certainly not Eddie 'Rox' Roxanninoff, who's gorgeous, smart, and genuinely nice to boot! There's someone else smitten with Rox, too. It's Leyla, Cyrie's pretty yet tongue-tied best friend. Helping Leyla seduce Rox through email provides a wonderful way for Cyrie to express her true feelings. But watching her crush hook up with Leyla may be more than she can take. Will Cyrie find the strength to risk it all-nose be damned-and confess her love? In this funny and poignant spin on a classic, popular YA author Emily Franklin explores the age-old theme of 'true beauty' with humour and piercing perception.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Interview with Emily Arnold McCully regarding her new book, My Heart Glow: Alice Cogswell, Thomas Gallaudet, and the Birth of American Sign Language

My Heart Glow: Alice Cogswell, Thomas Gallaudet, and the Birth of American Sign Language (2008) by Emily Arnold McCully
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children

Many of you may already know the story of how Alice Cogswell caught the attention of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet. Children’s author, illustrator and Caldecott Medal winner Emily Arnold McCully invites us to take another look at this touching story of how “one little girl inspired a whole new language- as well as the school where it could be taught”. This picture book shares their story and recounts how Gallaudet's interest in teaching Alice carries him on a long journey that eventually leads to the nation's first school for the deaf. In addition, a beautifully written author’s note offers more details about American Sign Language and Alice’s life after attending school.

I personally enjoyed reading the excerpts of Alice’s letters to Gallaudet while he was in Europe. This is a nice way to teach even the youngest children about the history of American Sign Language.

*******Read my interview with Emily Arnold McCully below*******
SPW: What prompted you to write the story?

EAM: For many years, I have invented or looked in history for brave and inquisitive
young girls. Then I make them heroines of picture books. (Mirette on the High Wire, Marvelous Mattie). One of my sons, Nathaniel McCully, is fluent in ASL and a student of Deaf History. I think that his interest was sparked by a friend whose niece was deaf. In any case, he knew the story of Thomas Gallaudet, Alice Cogswell and Laurent Clerc. He told it to me in outline and I realized that Alice was another heroine whose story could spread the word about ASL to hearing children and affirm part of their heritage for Deaf children.

SPW: What type of research did you do for your book? (for example, the excerpts from Alice's letters to Gallaudet while he was in Europe; your author's note with the list of sources-- I'm mostly asking about the process to point out the value of researching)

EAM: Since I knew nothing about the subject, I first went to the New York University Library, where I am lucky enough to have access to the stacks. This means that I can go to the section where books about Deaf culture and education are shelved and simply browse my way around. I looked at many books that weren’t immediately relevant--but that is the beauty of a library. You can read all around a subject as well as all about it. When one is telling a story, it is essential to know much more than will actually be incorporated into the story. I read Hartford histories and Cogswell family histories. I also consulted a great many excellent websites about Deaf history, particularly Galludet University’s. Next, I went directly to the American School for the Deaf, in Hartford, where Alice was in the first class. Gary E. Wait is the archivist there and he welcomed me warmly, showed me the books in his library and the objects on exhibit. He told me stories about Alice Cogswell and Thomas Gallaudet and examples of other peoples’ writing about them. I read excerpts from Alice’s and Thomas’ letters. Later, Mr. Wait read drafts of the story and made suggestions.

I had already read Harlan Lane’s When the Mind Hears and found it illuminating and inspiring. Gary Wait encouraged me to write to Professor Lane and that’s how I was able to use his imagining of Alice’s greeting to Laurent Clerc as the book’s title. Gary Wait advised me to leave out the story of sign language’s suppression, as it would only detract from what is a powerfully positive story of overcoming ignorance and hopelessness. After I finished the book I went to Paris and visited the school where Abbe Sicard and Clerc taught. The classrooms were not open to visitors but I was taken to the charming old library and shown a video of the school’s history (which included powerful scenes of the suppression of sign language).

SPW: What do you hope that readers will learn or take away from the book?

EAM: I hope that everyone who reads my book will come away with an understanding of Gallaudet’s courage and persistence, of Alice’s intelligence and spirit. I also think Laurent Clerc was a terrifically cool man but a picture book has only 32 pages and I had to keep his role small.

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

EAM: To children reading my books for the first time, I say, read more books-let history tell you its story. I think that is the only way to become steady and wise in the world. We can learn from what happened - in fact, we must! Books make us strong.
For more information about the author, visit the Balkin Buddies Page for her biography and list of published works.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Silent Time slated for a Heritage and History Book Award

The Historic Sites Association partners with the Writer's Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador to present a Heritage and History Book Award for a work of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or young adult/children's literature that exemplifies excellence in the interpretation of the history and heritage of Newfoundland and Labrador. A shortlist is selected and the winner is announced in December of that year. Let's cross our fingers because The Silent Time by Paul Rowe has made the short list!!! I read it last December and it became one of my favorite reads of the year.... and is still one of my favorites. The deaf character, Dulcie attends the Halifax School for the Deaf in the early 1900s, similar to the author's late mother, Elizabeth Rowe. The plot is amazing!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Happy Belated Birthday!

I remember when my doctoral advisor told me to pick a topic that I would love researching because the topic would stay with me for a long time. Two years and two days ago, my dissertation was born (or rather defended). I still do love my research.

Interview with Linda Kurtz Kingsley about her Children's Book SIGNS OF JAYS

((CORRECTION: the birds in the story are Scrub-Jays, not Blue Jays... the East Coast girl in me just came out))
Signs of Jays (October 2008) by Linda Kurtz Kingsley
Publisher: Jason & Nordic Publishers
Reading Age: 4 to 9

When narrator Pete and his mother rescue two abandoned Scrub-Jays, his friend Mike, who is deaf, and other deaf and hard of hearing students help take on the responsibility of caring for the baby birds. His mother explains that just like the students in her class who are preparing to mainstream, the jays are being prepared to mainstream back into the wild. This story is very much about bridging the communication between deaf and hearing children and how two boys overcome their barriers of communication to become friends.
The title holds a double meaning. While this is a beginning “sign” language book, Pete and Mike are waiting for a “sign” from the birds that they have raised and freed into the wild. The book includes twenty-four signs and beautiful watercolor illustrations of children using American Sign Language and wearing hearing aids.
****Read my interview with author Linda Kurtz Kingsley below*****

SPW: How did you decide to become an art teacher at the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf?

LKK: Actually, I started out with the intention of becoming an illustrator. I come from a family of artists and my grandfather did covers for the Saturday Evening Post. I grew up a few blocks away from the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf when it was in Mt. Airy. They advertised for an illustrator to draw educational material. I applied for the job and they talked me into taking a job at the school as their middle school art teacher. I was immediately hooked. I spent the next 3 years teaching art, being trained as an academic teacher of the deaf at the same time. The next 3 years I was an interpreter for college bound deaf students. I'm not deaf, but I am hard of hearing. I have about a 40 db bilateral censorial hearing loss that I've had since I was 30.

SPW: What prompted you to write Signs of Jays?

LKK: My first year teaching at PSD my roofer brother brought me a nest of starlings. He had to take the nest down to fix a roof and when he put it back, the mother did not return to the nest. I took the birds with me to PSD. The kids fed the birds during the day. At night, the birds came home with me. Eventually, they had to learn to be "mainstreamed" back into the wild. It was a great experience for my students and it gave me the idea for Signs of Jays which I wrote more than 30 years later.

SPW: Who is your target audience?

LKK: My target audience is deaf/hearing impaired students from preschool through about grade 4. I hope it will be enjoyed by older kids too. It is also designed to teach non-hearing impaired students about hearing impaired students they might encounter in school or the community.

SPW: What type of research did you do for your book? Will you explain your actual experiences taking care of orphaned birds?

LKK: I got a lot of help from our local wildlife center. Later, when I actually wrote and illustrated the book in California, I used California scrub jays instead of starlings, so I set up a bird feeder on my deck and took lots of photos. I already knew about the deaf and mainstreaming because by this time I was also a resource specialist working with mainstreamed students who were deaf, or had other impairments. My publisher circulated the book among many experts in the deaf community and they made suggestions.
Taking care of the birds was a little crazy. At first, they had to be fed every two hours. Later, when they started to fly, they got into all kinds of trouble like eating kids' food at lunch and pooping on peoples' heads. I remember once they landed on a hot wok when my husband was trying to stir fry a Chinese dinner.
(illustration from page 17 of Signs of Jays)
SPW: What do you hope readers will learn from this book?

LKK: I hope they learn that all people, disabled and not have the same wants and needs. We can all get along together.

SPW: What advice do you give to young, or young of heart who are reading the book for the first time?

LKK: Get out in the community and school and participate. Try new things. Don't be afraid if your voice sounds funny, or your body isn't perfect. No one will know how smart you are until you show them.

SPW: Do you want to add anything?

LKK: Never give up your goals. I had the idea for Signs of Jays more than 30 years ago. Today, at age 62, with rheumatoid arthritis, I finally achieved the goal I had as a five year old. It's never too late.
For more information about the author, visit Linda Kurtz Kingsley's webpage. To purchase the book, visit Harris Communications.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Presentation: Deaf Comic Book Characters

This presentation is for the students in Gallaudet's Art Department in preparation for my presentation at the International Reading Association Convention in February.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Deaf Students impacted by Hurricane IKE

The Council of American Instructors of the Deaf (CAID) is collecting money for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students (and their families) in the Galveston/Houston area of Texas who have been severely impacted by Hurricane Ike. Families are in need of beds, furniture, school supplies, etc. CAID pledges that all funds will go to families in an effort to recreate pre-Ike conditions for students in these areas.

CAID Council Member, Gabriel Lomas, who is a Hurricane Ike survivor is processing requests for these families and will work with the Council to allocate these funds as needed.
If you are able, please mail your donation to the CAID office or call their office if you would like to make a credit card donation.

Attention D/HH Hurricane Ike Survivors
CAID Office Manager Helen Lovato P.O. Box 377 Bedford, TX 76095-0377

(817) 354-8414 V/TTY

New List: Children's Books with Deaf Characters

While my primary focus is adolescent and Young Adult chapter books, I have added information about children's literature from time to time. I encourage you to visit my 100+ and Counting List which includes Juvenile (early chapter books- some with illustrations).

This is a new list that I will add titles to as I find them. This is NOT a comprehensive list of children's books with Deaf Characters. I have included books that I consider "contemporary". I usually do not include books that are out-of-print or unavailable.
  1. Antoinette Abbamonte, Tree Wise (2007)

  2. Sally Hobart Alexander & Robert Alexander, She Touched the World: Laura Bridgman, Deaf-Blind Pioneer (2008)

  3. Canadian Cultural Society of the Deaf, The Smart Princess and Other Deaf Tales (2006)

  4. Cece Bell, El Deafo (2014)
  5. Claire H. Blatchford, Going With the Flow (1998)- deaf author

  6. Elizabeth Boschini & Rachel Chaikof-deaf author with C.I., Ellie's Ears (2008)- deaf character with C.I.

  7. Merilee Dodson, Kids from Critter Cove (2007)-The purpose of this book is to teach children about people who are different or who have disabilities.
  8. Joyce Dunbar, Moonbird (2007 reprint)
  9. Linda Kurtz Kingsley, Signs of Jays (2008)

  10. Patricia Lakin, Dad and Me in the Morning (1994)

  11. Laila Laván and Beatriz Iglesias, Lucy: Loud and Clear / Lucía: alto y claro (2007)

  12. Jeanne M. Lee, Silent Lotus (1994)

  13. Emily Arnold McCully, My Heart Glow: Alice Cogswell, Thomas Gallaudet, and the Birth of American Sign Language (2008)

  14. Isaac Millman, Moses Goes To a Concert (1980)

  15. Isaac Millman, Moses Goes to School (2000)

  16. Isaac Millman, Moses Goes to the Circus (2003)

  17. Isaac Millman, Moses Sees a Play (2004)
  18. Jennifer Moore-Mallinos, I Am Deaf (Live and Learn Series) (March 2009)

  19. Anita Riggio, Secret Signs: Escape Through the Underground Railroad (2002)

  20. Pete Seeger & Paul Dubois Jacobs, Deaf Musicians (2006)-ALA honored book

  21. Andrea Stenn Stryer, Kami and the Yaks (2007)

  22. Myron Uhlberg, Dad, Jackie, and Me (2005)

  23. Myron Uhlberg, Flying over Brooklyn (1999)

  24. Myron Uhlberg, The Printer (2003)
  25. Mike Venezia, Alexander Graham Bell: Setting the Tone for Communication (Getting to Know the World's Greatest Inventors and Scientists) (2008)

  26. Valentine, Dina the Deaf Dinosaur (1997)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

New Children's Book: My Heart Glow by Emily Arnold McCully

My Heart Glow: Alice Cogswell, Thomas Gallaudet, and the Birth of American Sign Language (2008) by Emily Arnold McCully
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children

Alice Cogswell was a bright and curious child and a quick learner. She also couldn't hear. And, unfortunately, in the early nineteenth century in America, there was no way to teach deaf children. One day, though, an equally curious young man named Thomas Gallaudet, Alice's neighbor, senses Alice's intelligence and agrees to find a way to teach her. Gallaudet's interest in young Alice carries him across the ocean and back and eventually inspires him to create the nation's first school for the deaf, thus improving young Alice's life and the lives of generations of young, deaf students to come.

New in October Children's Book: Signs of Jays by Linda Kurtz Kingsley

Signs of Jays (October 2008) by Linda Kurtz Kingsley
Publisher: Jason & Nordic Publishers
ISBN-13: 9780944727225
Reading Age: 4 to 9

Peter and his mother rescued two abandoned jays. Caring for the baby birds became a project for Pete, Mike, who was deaf, and for Pete’s mother’s hearing impaired class students. Just as the children in the hearing impaired group were preparing to mainstream, so the boys prepared the jays to be mainstreamed back into the wild. This is a beginning signing book. It has twenty four signs and the standard ASL alphabet included.Reading Signs of Jays together and learning some of the signs included may open areas of understanding and provide opportunity for discussion with friends and siblings as children are included in regular education classrooms.

New Book for Adolescents: From A to Zulinski by Deb Piper

From A to Zulinski (May 2008) by Deb Piper
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Publisher: Royal Fireworks Publishing Company

This is the third volume in the chronicles of the irrepressible Jake's schooling. We first met him in Jake's the Name, Sixth Grade's the Game and followed by his exploits in Those Sevy Blues.
Jake is deaf and has relied on an interpreter to sign the spoken words in his classrooms. For most of his teachers and classmates he was the first mainstreamed deaf student they had encountered.

By the time he has reached high school Jake has a deaf classmate and long acquaintance with his peers. They know what mischief he can generate. The book is a series of flashbacks from the perspective of high school graduation, and Jake Zulinski has plenty of time for remembrance while his classmates receive their diplomas in alphabetical order.

There was the explosion of parts in small engine repair and the major problem in the welding class. Jake is reminded of his first date, and the girl's father who was more than a little concerned. There was the problem of sign language in the darkroom in photography and of his female interpreter in the boys' locker room for track. Then there was the incident...but you'll have to read the book to find out how much mayhem one student can cause.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Conference Presentation: The Importance of Including Adolescent Literature with Deaf Characters

Welcome Weaving Common Threads Conference Attendees. Note to the right side of this post you'll find a Deaf Character store where you can purchase the books that I discuss throughout the blog; my list of 100+ and Counting list of books currently with 185 contemporary publications; archives to view past posts; and a list of author interviews. Thanks for visiting!

Captioned Video: Myron Uhlberg speaks of The Hands of My Father

Before, I posted the version that was not yet captioned. Three days ago this captioned version was made available. Here is the captioned version of Myron Uhlberg discussing his forthcoming book, Hands of My Father.

I've also updated the earlier post with this video.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Daughters of Blessing #4

Rebecca's Reward (Daughters of Blessing #4) by Lauraine Snelling
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (October 1, 2008)

This is the fourth book in Snelling's Daughters of Blessing series. I love the character Grace (Deaf Character) who has appeared in Snelling's Red River Series, the Return to Red River, and plays a more significant role in the The Daughters of Blessing series. The #3 book in Snelling's series, A Touch of Grace, focused on Grace's life. I haven't read Rebecca's Reward yet so Grace might just be a secondary character. If you haven't read A Touch of Grace, I encourage you to do so if you enjoy historic fiction.

The setting is the early 1900s. Mrs. Knutson has started The Blessing School for the Deaf in Blessing, North Dakota and Grace teaches with her mother. The characters throughout the book use sign language to communicate. While this book is considered a historical fiction romance, many of the characters are adolescents and young adults... and it is considered a Christian Romance so there shouldn't be any inappropriate material for a teen.

I tried to interview Lauraine Snelling last year but wow is she a busy woman. I'm still hoping:) In the meantime, check out her website.

Product Description
Nineteen-year-old Rebecca Baard has experienced more than her share of sorrow, and now she is afraid to open her heart to love. Besides, no man has ever shown enough interest in her to come courting. So Rebecca's friends set out to remedy the situation, concocting social events to attract all the eligible bachelors in Blessing and advising her in the use of feminine wiles. When none of these efforts seem to work, Rebecca tries yet another tack, only to discover that even the best of intentions can't keep events from taking a surprising turn.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Blogging and Conferences

It has taken me a while to check my RSS Feed... so the compliment is a little dated; however, thanks Living La Vida Alpo for complimenting my blog. Interestingly enough, I've been following her blog and especially enjoy being Cue-Flipped and her post on banned books.

I'm supposed to nominate at least seven other bloggers. I've already mentioned some of my favorite bloggers. I read tons of blog.. hey "all the kids are doing it". Honestly, my favorite blogs right now are my student blogs:)

There are a couple that I read as often as possible. For starters, for those of you interested in graphic novels or using graphic novels in your classes, visit Professor Carter's (aka Bucky) blog which uses an English Educator's eye to examine "Sequential Art Narratives". I also read the NCTE blog weekly and ALAN whenever it is available.

Next week is the Weaving Common Threads and Diversity Among Deaf and Hard of Hearing Adolescents Conference in St. Louis, MO is in just a few days. My presentation on Deaf Characters will be on Tuesday October 7, from 1:30 - 2:45. Hope to see you there!

Finally, this year I have served as the 2008 Washington, D.C. representative for the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents (ALAN), an independent assembly of NCTE that was established particularly for those interested in adolescent literature. Now that the year is almost at an end, I wanted to take one more opportunity to spread the word about the organization and to recruit new members. Membership dues are still only $20.00 per year and it includes the journal, The ALAN Review. The student membership is just $10. I have a special interest in ALAN because I believe they are supportive of including books with deaf characters. Check out their website http://www.alan-ya.org/ and consider joining. That's my plug...No pressure though... okay, maybe a little. I've attached a membership application below for your convenience. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

Alan Membership Form
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ASL Films: 'The Legend of the Mountain Man'

The Legend of the Mountain Man

The Legend of the Mountain Man, set in picturesque Montana, features a typical, dysfunctional family of five. The father, who has been at odds with his parents for many years, decides to send his three children to his parents' ranch for the summer. The children unexpectedly encounter a creature, one that has never been seen nor recorded in history books. Viewers accompany the children on a heartwarming journey as they navigate the family's past and try to reconcile some of the estranged family members.
Directed by Mark Woods
Rated PG
116 minutes

Saturday, October 4 at 8 p.m.
Sunday, October 5 at 2 p.m.

Gallaudet University
Elstad Auditorium
Tickets: $10
To purchase tickets, contact Jenny.Nygaard@sprint.com.

For more information about the movie, visit www.ASLFILMS.com

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Released tomorrow: T4 by Ann Clare LeZotte

T4 (September 22, 2008) by Ann Clare LeZotte
Reading level: Ages 9-12112 pagesPublisher: Houghton Mifflin
It is 1939. Paula Becker, thirteen years old and deaf, lives with her family in a rural German town. As rumors swirl of disabled children quietly disappearing, a priest comes to her family's door with an offer to shield Paula from an uncertain fate. When the sanctuary he offers is fleeting, Paula needs to call upon all her strength to stay one step ahead of the Nazis.

Read my Interview with Ms. LeZotte

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Video Update: Myron Uhlberg

Both of the videos featuring author Myron Uhlberg are currently in the process of being captioned. Once these are available, I will upload them.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Video: Myron Uhlberg speaks of The Hands of My Father

This video includes Myron Uhlberg discussing his upcoming memoir, The Hands of My Father. Because it isn't closed captioned, I transcribed the video below... It's worth a watch for the beautiful pictures of Uhlberg's family. Have I mentioned that I can't wait to read this book?!?

For me of course my story is the centrality of my life. Everything begins and ends with me the fact that I was the first born hearing child of two deaf parents. But I knew the title could only be The Hands of My Father because when I think, and thought, and lived with my father when he was alive, to me the essence of my father was his hands. His language was in his hands. His language defined him… his culture.. his thoughts… his history everything was in his hands. About the time I was six years old I became officially my father’s translator. I was the interface between my father’s deaf world and the hearing world.
My mother at the age of 89… She couldn’t live alone anymore so I brought her to live with me. And every other day she would tell me “I want to die.. I want to die” and in Sign Language “I want to die” is the turning of the body (SIGNS DIE) . And then I said “Wait Wait Wait, Don’t die yet. I wrote a book” One day the book showed up and we sat down and I’ll never forget and I showed her the book and she traced with her hand the title Flying over Brooklyn by the author Myron Uhlberg and I could see in her expression how excited she was and when we came to the end there is a picture of my mother and she is holding her son, ME, by the shoulder and she is looking out the window at what’s left of this colossal blizzard in 1947. She turned and looked at me pointed to the woman in the illustration and said “Me” and I said “Yes, that’s you the mother that I love” (SIGNS LOVE) She started crying. And of course, I broke into tears as well. And at that time, she said “Why don’t you write about us. But talk about Lou..My husband Lou”. She always referred to my father as her husband Lou like he this was some strange other person who was not in fact my father. With adult audiences what happens is when I tell them my story, first they’re fascinated at learning about this complex invisible world in plain sight. Most of them have never interacted with a deaf person. They don’t realize that it’s a real language as opposed to just mimicking or miming something. They don’t realize there is a culture involved. They no nothing about… they’re absolutely fascinated. It’s a glimpse into this invisible world now made visible. There is a rather large segment of the community who the only way they understand the world around them is through their language…and their language is in their hands. And that’s a beautiful full rich complex language. And however it creates… problems of being deaf in the hearing world is the further appreciation of what those problems are. And that’s what I hope is the lasting remembrance of my story.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Myron Uhlberg- Excerpt from New Book (ASL interpreted)

Myron Uhlberg - Excerpt Reading/Sign Language Interpretation

I'm sorry this isn't captioned.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Unheard earns accolades

Congratulations to author Josh Swiller for winning the Paul Cowan Non-Fiction Award for The Unheard — A Memoir of Deafness and Africa. The 2008 Peace Corps Writers Awards are for books published during 2007.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Deaf Character Children's Book in the News

Signs lead to children's book on deaf (The Sun, SAN BERNARDINO, CA 9/6/08)
Enrique Speaks With His Hands is based on the story of a deaf Honduran youngster. The author and his family met Enrique while doing ministry service in Honduras with Signs of Love, a nonprofit organization that brings language to the deaf in Third World countries and spreads Christianity.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Interview with Myron Uhlberg regarding his forthcoming memoir HANDS OF MY FATHER

Last May, I flew to Atlanta, GA for one day to The International Reading Association (IRA) Convention for Myron Uhlberg’s presentation “DAD, JACKIE, AND ME: Deaf, Black, and Hearing: What's the Connection? The Stories Behind the Story”. You can read my May 11 post about the experience. Since that meeting, I requested an interview with Myron to discuss his previous publications and his forthcoming memoir, Hands of My Father: A Hearing Boy, His Deaf Parents, and the Language of Love. It was an absolute honor to attend his presentation and it is an honor to be able to discuss his books with him. He’ll tell you that he started writing books in his 60’s; however, I’m sure he’s been telling stories much longer than that. I can’t wait to get my hands on this book!

Hands of My Father: A Hearing Boy, His Deaf Parents, and the Language of Love by Myron Uhlberg
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Bantam (December 30, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0553806882
SPW: How did you decide to include your parents as the deaf characters in your books?

MU: When I began to write books for children I struggled to find what every writer looks for, a voice—and a topic. Prior to beginning this, rather belated, second career at the tender age of sixty-two, I had done much research on the genre of children’s literature. Then, as a former businessman, I created a business plan. That plan included reading every picture book—from A to Z—in the main branch of my public library. I would type out what I intuitively felt were the best books, thereby gaining a feeling for the words used and the structure of the story. Having gone through the collection from A to Z, I then read each book in the collection again, this time backwards--from Z to A, on the theory that I would catch any books that had been previously out on loan. Then I began to write. And write. And write some more. (I was seemingly pretty prolific.) At first, I wrote about many things: mean dogs, and the natural fear of them by most children; variations on classic folktales, as well as many other diverse subjects.

After completing a story I would immediately send it off—rather willy-nilly—to a publisher—any publisher. When I went to my mailbox to send out a story, I would find in it a story being returned from a previous submission. Basically, all I was accomplishing with my strategy (actually, no strategy) was the benefit of the exercise of walking to and from my mailbox. (My blood pressure actually went down five points during this exercise cycle.) The typical pro- forma rejections from editors would occasionally contain a personal comment, such as: “Dear author, nice story, but if we needed another story by Maurice Sendak, we would ask him, not you, to write it.” You see, I had read so many picture books, and had internalized so many of them, that I was writing in their voice. (Well, at least, I had good taste.)

When the rejection letter pile reached a height that even I found to be impressive, I stopped, and regrouped. It was at this point that I decided to forget about writing what I thought publishers wanted to see and, instead, I began writing the themes and subjects I wanted to explore. And those were about the interface of the deaf and hearing world; the world I had grown up in—the world of a hearing boy raised by a deaf mother and father.

SPW: What type of research did you do to become a children’s author?

MU: Each of my books required different levels of research. For example: In Flying Over Brooklyn the setting is the blizzard of 1947. At the time, I was thirteen-years-old. Since that was over sixty years ago, I had to examine the archives of The New York Times to test my memory as to actual details of the storm. My concern was that I had—in memory—exaggerated the extent and depth of the snowfall. It turns out, I hadn’t. For Dad, Jackie, and Me—also set in 1947—I had to research the entire baseball season of that year, paying particular attention to the impact that Jackie Robinson, the first black baseball player to play in the major leagues, had on baseball, his team, the fans, and, in fact, on all of America. For my latest book, an adult memoir, Hands of My Father: A Hearing Boy, His Deaf Father, and the Language of Love, I immersed myself in my father’s old family photograph albums. I spent countless hours and days lost in those old black-and-white photos. Like Proust’ Madeleine they instantly brought back my deaf world of seventy years ago.

SPW: What inspired you to write?

MU: My original inspiration was to become a published author, so that—as I imagined it—my first-born granddaughter, Alex, would invite me to her school for an author visit. How proud she and I would be. However, it took many years before my first book was accepted, and so it was that Alex was in middle school by the time it was published. But by then, her younger sister, Kelli, was in grade school . . . and one day, she met me at the door of her school (all emblazoned with banners announcing my visit) and took me by the hand to every class, and introduced me as her grandfather, the author.

SPW: What do you hope that readers will learn or take away from your books?

MU: The world of the deaf is invisible to the larger hearing world—invisible in plain sight. It is only when the hands of the deaf come alive and begin to speak the beautiful language contained in them that the hearing are aware of the deaf world. I hope my books about this world will make visible to the hearing how beautiful is the language of the deaf—American Sign Language—and how that language lies at the heart of deaf culture; just as every language does in every culture in every part of the world. Furthermore, I hope that children who read my book gain a reinforced understanding of the diversity that exists within the human condition.

SPW: When is your next book going to be in bookstores?

MU: My next book, published by Bantam, is an adult memoir titled, HANDS OF MY FATHER. It will be in bookstores January/February 2009. This memoir has as it genesis my children’s books, THE PRINTER, and DAD, JACKIE, AND ME. It is the story of my growing up the first-born hearing child of two deaf parents in Brooklyn, New York, during the Great Depression and WW II. At the heart of the book is the boy’s love for his mother and father, a love that is confused with shame. At the age of six the boy becomes his father’s interpreter, and the human interface with the hearing world. After an initial—quite short, actually—period of time where the boy feels great pride in the role of interpreter for his father, he soon becomes disenchanted at the prospect of spending his childhood years acting in such a grown up capacity. The book recounts how the hearing boy blends his life in the hearing world with his life in his silent deaf world, and the adjustments he must make between being a child and acting as an adult—along with being a buffer, and protector, between his deaf father and the often hostile, uncaring hearies (his father’s term for hearing people). Woven throughout the book are vivid descriptions of the expressive beauty of his parent’s deaf language, American Sign Language, the boy’s first language.

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

MU: I would suggest that after reading the story they ask themselves the question: Am I any different from the characters I’ve just read about?

SPW: Anything else you would like to add?

MU: As a child growing up, I was never a writer. Perhaps that was because Sign was my first language, and in Sign you write on air: there is no written sign language. But I did read. Reading was my first true passion, and it remains so to this day. A lifetime habit of reading—among only one of its many virtues—is the best foundation for being a writer. For anyone who reads any of my books—child or adult¾and thinks (as did I for so many years): “I wish I could be a writer,” I would ask them to consider my story. I did not decide to be a writer until I was sixty-two. My first book was published when I was sixty-six. I’ve been often asked, “Where did you get your imagination?” I have no imagination. I just write about what I know about: my life. Since everyone who wishes to be a writer has also had a life (and each life is unique in its own way) they have within them endless material for an endless amount of books. So the best advice I have to anyone who wishes to be a writer is: Write.
Product Description
By turns heart-tugging and hilarious, Myron Uhlberg’s memoir tells the story of growing up as the hearing son of deaf parents—and his life in a world that he found unaccountably beautiful, even as he longed to escape it.“Does sound have rhythm?” my father asked. “Does it rise and fall like the ocean? Does it come and go like the wind?”Such were the kinds of questions that Myron Uhlberg’s deaf father asked him from earliest childhood, in his eternal quest to decipher, and to understand, the elusive nature of sound. Quite a challenge for a young boy, and one of many he would face. Uhlberg’s first language was American Sign Language, the first sign he learned: “I love you.” But his second language was spoken English—and no sooner did he learn it than he was called upon to act as his father’s ears and mouth in the stores and streets of the neighborhood beyond their silent apartment in Brooklyn. Resentful as he sometimes was of the heavy burdens heaped on his small shoulders, he nonetheless adored his parents, who passed on to him their own passionate engagement with life. These two remarkable people married and had children at the absolute bottom of the Great Depression—an expression of extraordinary optimism, and typical of the joy and resilience they were able to summon at even the darkest of times.From the beaches of Coney Island to Ebbets Field, where he watches his father’s hero Jackie Robinson play ball, from the branch library above the local Chinese restaurant where the odor of chow mein rose from the pages of the books he devoured to the hospital ward where he visits his polio-afflicted friend, this is a memoir filled with stories about growing up not just as the child of two deaf people but as a book-loving, mischief-making, tree-climbing kid during the remarkably eventful period that spanned the Depression, the War, and the early fifties.
About the Author
Myron Uhlberg is the critically acclaimed and award-winning author of a number of children’s books. He lives with his wife in Santa Monica and Palm Springs.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Weaving Common Threads and Diversity Among Deaf and Hard of Hearing Adolescents Conference

There is still time to register for the October Conference: Weaving Common Threads and Diversity Among Deaf and Hard of Hearing Adolescents in St. Louis, MO. I am extremely excited about this conference because it explicitly addresses the needs of adolescents and I'm guessing that it is the only conference of its kind! So, I highly encourage you to go or at least check out some of the presentations (click the conference title below for the link).
My presentation on Deaf Characters will be on Tuesday October 7, from 1:30 - 2:45. Hope to see you there!

Weaving Common Threads and Diversity Among
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Adolescents

Crowne Plaza St. Louis-Clayton
St. Louis, MO
October 5-8, 2008

Adolescents who are deaf or hard of hearing comprise a highly divers population of youth served in education, rehabilitation, and related community service programs. Their diversity is represented not only through multiculturalism and ethnicity but in their communication styles, interests, and academic skills. Programs must address the needs of an increasing number of students from diverse ethnic backgrounds and an increasing number of students utilizing cochlear implants and diverse communication styles.

Designed to increase participant’s awareness of multicultural issues as well as advances in technology and effective classroom teaching practices, this conference will allow the opportunity for professionals working with deaf and hard of hearing students to network and increase awareness of new programs and practices.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Summer Issue of YADC (Young Adult Deaf Characters)

View the Summer issue of the YADC newsletter here: SummerYADC

View SlideShare document or Upload your own.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Peter Cook performs for Gallaudet

While this blog is primarily for adolescent literature which includes Deaf Characters, I like to add topics that may be of interest to young adults in general. As an educator (and a lover of books), I want young people to read; however, I also hope that they attend cultural events that encourage them to play with language. One example is last night's performance by Deaf poet Peter Cook for new students as part of Gallaudet's New Student Orientation. The term poet doesn't do him justice. Cook is a renowned performing artist whose work includes American Sign Language, pantomime, storytelling, acting and movement. With poignant facial expressions, his work hardly needs to be voice interpreted; however, last night's performance included CART allowing new signers to be equally entertained. Without missing a beat, Cook took full advantage of the added medium and even played with the written words as they scrolled across the screen.
This is the fourth time that I have seen Cook perform and each performance includes new surprises. Last night Cook began telling the traditional joke about a Deaf couple who stayed at a hotel. He playfully asked the crowd, "tell me when you've heard this one before". Immediately students knew the story but Cook continued teasing and explained that the husband in the story realized that he had left something in the car and had to go to get it. After retrieving the item, he headed back to his room only to realize that he had forgotten which room was his. Again Cook asked, "Are you sure you've heard this one before?" and then continued that the guy in the story had a bit of an epiphany and went back to car and began honking the horn for a few moments knowing that all the lights would come on in the rooms with hearing people. "Do you know this story?" Cook continued. The students were roaring because they thought they knew the ending... but they didn't. Cook's version ended with a twist along with a warm welcome to the new Class of 2012. You didn't think I was going to give away the ending, did you?
For more information about Peter Cook and to purchase videos, visit the poet's website. Below I added a commercial with Peter Cook that I found on YouTube and below that is a presentation of The Flying Words Project at UCSD. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Sunrise, Conference, Deaf Author, Fireworks.... literally

Va Beach Sun Rise
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own.
I can't think of a better way to end the summer than the Pathways to Possibilities Conference in Virginia Beach. I attended some amazing presentations including former principal/educator/ mentor (etc. etc.) Rachel Bavister's "From the Inside Looking Out" and my current colleague and friend Tim Anderson's "Grasping the Future Now" on preparing students for college literacy.

While even my husband knows that I have a "professional" crush on Deaf Author Josh Swiller, my post title is literal; I actually saw fireworks!
On Wednesday night, I couldn't sleep well. That usually happens before I give a presentation... and this one was particularly frightening with former teachers and mentors in the audience. So around 5am on Thursday morning, I decided that I NEEDED to go to the beach to see the sunrise. My perfect morning turned into a perfect day.

That afternoon, Josh Swiller closed the Deaf/HH strand of the conference with his presentation, "Living Without Limits: One Man's Story". If you've followed my blog for a while, you know that I can certainly go on and on about some authors. Mr. Swiller is no exception. He has a great book; he is a great storyteller; and, he is just fun to be around. But I'll let you read past posts (note the plural form and how I oddly don't even feel embarrassed: gushing post 1; gushing post 2; gushing post 3) for the gushing. Come on, how can you not adore a man who adds the word 'discombobulated' into his presentation just for fun?!?

The perfect day concluded with seeing fireworks on my drive home. What a perfect way to close summer:) In the next few weeks, the 5th issue of my YADC newsletter will be out. I'll add it on slideshare but if you'd like it sent to your email, just send me a note. Also, you'll be able to read my interview with the author who just stole my heart when we met, Myron Uhlberg about his upcoming memoir. In the meantime, if you know of some books with Deaf Characters that aren't added on my list, please send me an email. Below is my handout from my presentation and my PowerPoint slide.