Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Why I love Sarah Lawrence College (and their writers who include Deaf Characters)

It has only been a little over a year since I've started to add author interviews on this blog. Lately, I've noticed that some of the really great authors are from Sarah Lawrence College including: Jacqueline Woodson, Feathers; Rachel Stolzman, A Sign for Drowning; and one whom I will be raving about very soon, Ann Clare LeZotte, T4 (I'm serious... as soon as I post this Deaf Author's Interview about her upcoming publication, I'm going to tell you to run out, and not just go out, and buy her book. In fact, I'm even going to tell the teachers to grab a class set... that's how much I think of this book).

My fellow WaHoos aren't too far behind in publishing books with Deaf Characters. There have been two fabulous authors who have called the University of Virginia their ol' stompin' grounds including: Doug Cooney, Leading Ladies; Nobody's Perfect (hey, it's been a year.... when do we get to read more about Megan???) and Meg Burden, Northlander.

Of course, there is also Edgar A. Poe, who totally seems like the type of author who would have used a Deaf Character but I don't believe he actually did. There is a brief reference in Tamerlane that references the narrator as becoming deaf from the wind (noise) but that doesn't count.

The summer is not over just yet. If you still need a book to read, check out some of these from our Sarah Lawrence College and UVa friends. Enjoy!

Friday, July 25, 2008

A Conference Filled with "Magic" (and Deaf Magician Matt Morgan!!!)

I am still recuperating from my travels to Sioux Falls, SD for the Midwest Conference on Deaf Education at Augustana College. One of the highlights of the conference was not only seeing Deaf Magician Matt Morgan's Magic Show on Monday night but taking his workshop on developing problem solving skills. My poor partner in the workshop had to tolerate me clapping like a little kid with each, I'm a slow learner when it comes to magic tricks. I'm still dealing with my math phobia after all these years so when anyone says "problem solving" I immediately think about one train traveling from New York while another one is traveling from Phoenix and at what point will they pass. Remember those math problems? That being said, thanks to Magic Morgan for being such a great magician and teacher, I now have several tricks that I can share with others. Former Miss Deaf America, Chelsea Tobin, took part in Magic Morgan's Monday night performance. I met so many wonderful people. What a great visit to Augustana College and what a beautiful campus filled with so many art sculptures. While the conference was choke-full of interesting workshops, I was able to tour Sioux Falls and catch the "points of interest" that are available to the "151,300 progressive citizens" (reads the guide book). I visited St. Joseph Cathedral, an early 1900's Romanesque & French Renaissance structure which is one of South Dakota's largest cathedrals; and hiked around Falls Park which features rock formations washed by the Big Sioux River. I've included some of my pictures including the Monarch of the Plains buffalo statue.

I have added my presentation to SlideShare below. For those of you new to this blog, I hope you take some time to look around at the archives and read the interviews with the authors. I am extremely excited about some of my upcoming interviews with CODA author Myron Uhlberg and Deaf Author Ann Clare LeZotte of the forthcoming publication T4. As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to send me an email

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The fate of so many books...out of print

Tomorrow morning I'm flying out to Sioux Falls, SD for the Midwest Conference on Deaf Education at Augustana College. During my travels, I'll be reading Kief Hillsbery's War Boy (2000). Although the book is fairly new (less than a decade old), it is already out of print. That is a sad and realistic fate of many books. They are just as mortal as we are. It is also a shame because this book has received praise from young adult readers. However, just because books are no longer being printed doesn't mean you can't still read them. I purchased the book used from Powell's but there are some available through I love old books because you can often find a previous owner's name or even an inscribed message of well-wishes. This book only had a number which tells me it has probably been sitting on a shelf waiting for some like me to pick it up and buy it.

First Sentence:I'm Rad I'm deaf I don't talk I'm fourteen I'm telling the story.

From Publishers Weekly
Oregon native Hillsbery invests his insider knowledge of West Coast subcultures in his energetic debut novel. His narrator, Radboy, is a 14-year-old deaf skateboarder with serious family trouble: his father murdered his mother, got away with it and now wants to do away with his son. Radboy is rescued by his superskater friend, Jonnyboy, who's a decade older, and who inflicts maximum punishment on Radboy's dad. Soon the two escape hometown Monterey and are off to San Francisco.

Friday, July 18, 2008

A.S.I.I.D. with Deaf Crew Member Joooey Voted Off Show

After five weeks of competition, the Detroit dance crew A.S.I.I.D. (And So It Is Done) didn't make it through to another week on the second season of America's Best Dance Crew.
I've been following the show since the first episode when we were introduced to A.S.I.I.D. crew member Joooey, who is profoundly deaf. Joooey lost his hearing aid a few weeks back during the crew's performance but it didn't slow down any of his moves last week in the speed competition. I thought A.S.I.I.D. was one of the more popular crews but if they don't get enough votes they're off the show. Last week, Joooey's energy impressed the judges and Lil Mama called Joooey "the hardest boy" in the group and complemented him for not using his deafness as any type of crutch. After all, there's no room for cry babies on this dance competition. I guess I'll have more time for reading now.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Another Website on Deaf Characters in YA Literature

Here is another website to find research on Deaf Characters. Stephanie Anne, a graduate of Humboldt State University's English/Language Arts Education program, created a Deaf Young Adult Literature page for one of her English classes. Her site reviews A Maiden's Grave, Feathers, Finding Abby, Graffix: The Listener, and Rally Caps. It's a bit humbling to see my research cited throughout her project. In fact, I was reading through some of her work and thought, 'hmm, that sounds a lot like me'... then, I saw the citation and it was me:) My blog is even listed as her favorite website on her personal blog. Thanks Stephanie!

One of her posts from June referenced her experience as a Camp Director and it actually reminded me of my very first day as an "official" teacher in my very own classroom. I can't remember exactly what went wrong but remember saying to myself, "Oh No! Help! Get the teacher" and then I realized I was the teacher. Hee hee... Nearly a decade later, I can still empathize with new teachers. The 12 1/2 Writing Rules is taken from one of her e-portfolio pages. Good luck Stephanie and keep on blogging!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

'hardly' Hard of Hearing Character in The Loser's Guide to Life and Love

The Loser's Guide to Life and Love: A Novel (June 2008) by A. E. Cannon
The main character Ed is losing his hearing in one ear. I'm not adding this book to my 100+ and Counting list since Ed is hardly a hard-of-hearing character; however, the author has earned praise along with several awards (including the Delacorte Press Prize for a First Young Adult Novel; an ALA Best Book for Young Adults and an American Bookseller Pick of the List; and 100 Best of the Best Young Adult Books of the Past 25 Years) so I think I should at least recommend the book.

Product Description
Ordinary, boring Ed works a loser summer job at Reel Life Movies, where he doesn't even have his own name tag. He's stuck with "Sergio." Ed's only consolations are his two best friends. Shelving DVDs isn't so mind-numbingly dull with Scout cracking jokes, and after hours Ed hangs out with the superbrain, Quark. Life starts to look up when the girl of his dreams saunters into Reel Life. Ed knows he doesn't stand a chance . . . but maybe, just maybe Sergio does. All he has to do is pretend to be a smoldering Brazilian stud for the rest of his life. Simple, right? But . . . Ed's new dream girl has her own secrets, Scout wants to be more than Ed's best friend, and his buddy Quark wants Scout for himself.Star-crossed crushes make for hilarious misunderstandings as Ed guides his life toward disaster in this fresh, contemporary twist on Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream.

another place to find Books with Deaf Characters

The more the merrier, right? Here is another place to find books with Deaf Characters. Amazon's Listmania Profile user AnnainCa has created a Listmania list called Deaf Protagonists for Young Readers. While the list includes several of the adolescent literature texts listed on this blog, AnnainCa includes picture books such as Lakin's Dad and Me in the Morning and the Moses series.
The list, which includes 32 suggestions, was last updated in May so it appears to be an active link. There is also an email address listed so you should be able to contact her directly. The cute little pink unicorn (pictured right) is AnnainCa's profile picture.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Link to Youtube video of Michael Chorost book talk

Here is a link to an Authors@Google hour long book talk with Michael Chorost, author of Rebuilt: How Becoming Part Computer Made Me More Human. This event took place on June 30, 2008 as a part of of the Authors@google series.
Unfortunately it isn't Captioned so I'm not going to embed the video on this blog. I did sent an email to GoogleTalks encouraging them to caption their videos.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Interview with Teri Brown, author of Read My Lips

Read My Lips (June 2008) by Teri Brown
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Ages: 14 and up
Grades: 9 and up
ISBN-10: 1416958681

When sarcastic, skater chick Serena moves to a new school, she is faced with flying under the radar like she did at her old school or fitting in with the popular crowd. Serena is deaf and has a special talent for reading lips even across the school cafeteria. Serena notes that not all deaf people can do this and it is just a fluke that she can. When some of the girls in the ├╝ber popular group find out about her skill, they feel that they have a new secret weapon to snoop out all the gossip in the school. Will Serena trade in her black hoodies for pink tees just to fit in? How will she avoid social suicide with Miller, hot guy and school rebel with whom she really has so much in common?

*********Read my interview with author Teri Brown below*************
SPW: Considering that your acknowledgements thank the Alexander Graham Bell Association and in the About the Author section mentions your deaf teenage niece, I am going to guess that she was part of your inspiration for including your Deaf Character Serena. Will you share a bit about the inspiration of Serena and the storyline about eavesdropping?

TB: The first rendition of Read My Lips starred a deaf girl and ghosts! My inspiration for the original idea came from my mother in law, who worked tirelessly for deaf children. My niece was part of the equation, but it was from talking to my mother in law about her work that really gave the seeds of inspiration. And my agent persuaded me to give up the ghost as it were and I am really glad she did!

SPW: You said that you had a launch party at the Washington School for the Deaf which I believe includes students who use sign language. I read a blog that described your party ( and was impressed. Can you describe your decision to launch your book there instead of at an oral school? And, will you share that experience and some of the "tough questions" that the students asked?

TB: I’m aware of the tensions about the oralism question and I wanted to stay neutral. While my mother in law was fairly pro oralism early on, the longer she worked with deaf children, the more she saw both sides. Because Serena was an oral deaf teen, I wanted to have my launch party at a signing school. And I must say the kids asked the tough questions, mainly, why wasn’t Serena a signing deaf girl. And I told them the truth—not knowing sign would make it very difficult for me to describe it accurately, and for the purposes of the plot line, having her sign didn’t make much sense because no one else at her school would be able to understand her.
I will be visiting an oral school and another signing deaf school in the fall.

SPW: On your blog, I saw the picture of your new tattoo. Can you describe how you made the decision to commemorate the moment? I always feel like reading adolescent fiction keeps me young. I guess writing it does too:)

TB: You know, I’ve always wanted to get a tattoo, but it had to be something monumental. What can be more monumental than having my dream of being a published author come true? And in case anyone was wondering… yes! It hurt!

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

TB: When I wrote the book, I had two audiences in mind, the deaf community of teens and the hearing community of teens. For the deaf community, I wanted to give them a mainstream book that had a character they could relate to. And for the hearing community, I wanted to show them how little differences actually make—teens are teens, periods. It’s tough all over.

And for everyone, I would like them to realize that being who you are is important, but it’s okay to change and grow too.

Of course, that’s a lot to expect from one little book!

SPW: Can you tell us about your future plans as a YA novelist?

TB: I have two proposals in the works right now and hope to have some good news about my next novel, shortly. I would like to write in a couple of different genres of YA, but I really like writing for teens, so I can’t see myself switching to adult books any time soon.

SPW: Do you have any advice that you could offer young people who are reading your book for the first time?

TB: I think the people who enjoy Read My Lips the most are those who don’t read it with the expectation that it’s a deaf issues book. It’s a larger story that stars a deaf girl and that’s just the way I wanted it to be. It’s also a light, beachy type read, so don’t expect serious literature! Just have fun with it!
For more information about the author Teri Brown, visit her website.