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 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
View SlideShare document or Upload your own.

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

For more information about the movie, visit