Monday, July 16, 2012

Silent Star: The Story of Deaf Major Leaguer William Hoy by Bill Wise

(Also posted on my blog Hearing Sparks. To enter to win a copy of this book, head over to my post there and leave a comment.)  

Silent Star: The Story of Deaf Major Leaguer William Hoy is by Bill Wise (illustrations by Adam Gustavson). It takes us through the life of William Hoy. William, or "Dummy" as he actually came to prefer to be called (the term was acceptable in the 19th century), was deafened by a bout with meningitis in his childhood.

Hoy never gave up on his dream of playing baseball in the major leagues. This book vividly describes his experiences growing up and proving his abilities to be able to move up in the baseball ranks. Hoy retired from baseball over a century ago, but his accomplishments still rank up there with today's notable players. According to the book, he is "one of only three outfielders to record three assists to home plate in one game and is the only outfielder ever to lead a major league in assists, putouts, and fielding percentage in the same season."

In order to play, Hoy had to overcome initial skepticism as well as difficulty with the mechanics of the game itself (not being able to hear the umpire's calls meant he had to turn and look at him after each pitch, leaving him unable to see the pitcher getting ready to throw another ball). The book is an inspiration, showing how Hoy beat his obstacles and became very successful.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Moses Goes to a Concert by Isaac Millman

In Moses Goes to a Concert, Moses and several of his classmates, all of whom are Deaf, have the opportunity to go on a field trip to a children's concert. While they are there, Moses learns an important lesson about aspirations and goals in life.

The text in the book is accompanied by small American Sign Language lessons, allowing readers to try signing for themselves. Accessibility options for the Deaf children are also addressed, along with ways that the experience can be made better for them.

Moses' story is told in a simple fashion, introducing young readers to a small part of the Deaf culture in an interesting way.

This is the first of several books about Moses, all by Isaac Millman.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Don't Kill the Birthday Girl by Sandra Beasley

Allergies may not seem like a disability, but when you have a long list of them, they start to feel like it. Don't Kill the Birthday Girl by Sandra Beasley explores Sandra's life growing up with quite a few different allergies.

This book is by turns funny and frightening - Sandra recounts not only her experiences but also the way allergies have come to be viewed in mainstream American culture over the decades. It's a very interesting look at a topic often misunderstood.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Out Of My Mind by Sharon Draper

Out Of My Mind by Sharon Draper is an empowering book about a young woman with cerebral palsy. Melody often feels trapped inside her own body, which won't respond when she wants it to. She cannot speak and has difficulty communicating in other ways. This book allows the reader to follow along on Melody's journey as she finds new ways of communicating and learns how to make friends.

Although it feels somewhat dated at times, Out Of My Mind is a great introduction to people with disabilities for children in late elementary school/early middle school; I think it would also be wonderful for a child who sometimes feels "different" to read and empathize with Melody.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

Wonderstruck, by Brian Selznick, is a novel told in words and images, telling the entwined story of a young deaf girl who longs for escape and a boy curious about his mysterious past. The alternating chapters between Rose and Ben forward the story in a moving and interesting way, and Deaf culture is respectfully introduced in such a way that will certainly spike interest among readers.

Monday, November 28, 2011

My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger

My Most Excellent Year is a young adult novel by Steve Kluger. It follows teenagers T.C., his brother Augie, and Alejandra, and is written in the form of diary entries, instant messages, and emails from them and other supporting characters.

My Most Excellent Year also features a very well-written and -rounded Deaf character named Hucky. Hucky is a six-year-old boy living in a residence for Deaf children after his mother abandoned him. Hucky is befriended by the three main characters, especially T.C.

Hucky is an excellent contrast to many deaf children in literature. He definitely stood out in comparison to the little boy in Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz, who is basically treated as a tragic, misunderstood character with little feelings of his own except what other characters lay onto him. Hucky, by contrast, definitely has his own personality, opinions, way of communicating, and outlook on life.

The little boy is allowed to grow over the course of the novel, along with the other three main characters. By the end of the novel Hucky is very different than he was at the start, and you can see him blossoming.

His communication "problems" are never actually a problem. The characters embrace learning American Sign Language, and there are some funny moments when they can't communicate properly or don't know the right signs. The novel even touches on the difference between ASL and British Sign Language through another character.

This is a really sweet novel that I think is a great example of the way d/Deaf/hard of hearing characters can be written so well. I really liked it and I hope you get the chance to pick it up, too.

Monday, November 21, 2011

With the Light: Raising an Autistic Child, Volume 2 by Keiko Tobe

With the Light: Raising an Autistic Child is a manga series, a type of graphic novel written in Japan. The author, Keiko Tobe, takes the experiences of several parents of children with autism in Japan, and consolidates them into the tale of Hikaru and his parents.

In the second volume of this series, Hikaru experiences the later elementary school years. He and his family must deal with several challenges including tragedy at his school. This volume seems to flow more easily than the first and contains a wealth of information about assisting autistic children at this age. The short essays at the back are a fascinating read, as usual.