Show Me a Sign by Ann Clare LeZotte, 288 pages. Scholastic, March 2020. $19
Content: G (kidnapping)
BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - OPTIONAL
AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE
Mary, 11yo, may be deaf, but her life on Martha’s Vineyard in 1805 is is as normal as everyone’s. In fact, because about one in four people in her village are deaf, everyone uses signs as part of every day conversation. When a stranger, Andrew Noble, comes to town to study them, in order to find the cause of deafness, he says, all welcome him cordially. After a short time on the island, however, he kidnaps Mary and drags her off to Boston, treating her as a thing, not a human - a specimen for his research. Without access to pen and paper, Mary has no way to communicate with any one to let them know that inside her deaf body is a human being.
I was fascinated by LeZotte’s descriptions of the whole community on Martha’s Vineyard and their easy acceptance and community-mindfulness of inclusion. It wasn’t until 1817 that the first deaf school opened in America. LeZotte also delves into relationships with the Wampanoag Nation in a limited way. Because this is historical fiction, it won’t be picked up by many on its own, but those that do will certainly find it interesting.
Cindy Mitchell, Library Teacher