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Deaf Characters in Adolescent Literature Newsletter

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  1. 1. Winter 2008 Volume 1, Issue 3 Why do authors include Deaf Characters? During my research on deaf characters Inside this issue: in adolescent literature, the partici- pants in my 2006 study agreed with one “When I was teaching there Letter from Sharon 2 another relating to their preferences were no books with characters New in the bookstore 2 for a spectrum of deaf characters. One for 2008 deaf participant further explained his/ who were deaf. I wanted deaf What’s on my bookshelf 3 her belief that the examination and de- scription of deaf people by hearing children to be the heroes so On Television 4 authors was much more realistic than that is why I wrote the books.” the deaf authors who included much In the Theatre 4 more superficial and basic information Anne Colledge about deafness. In the participant‟s On Television 5 opinion, the major difference between Read Captions Across 5 the hearing and deaf authors was that much and when I retired I missed the America the books by the deaf authors were children so I joined a canoe club and Off the page 8 “written for deaf children, not for when we were paddling on the rivers hearing children” (Pajka-West, 2007, and the sea the children talked to me. I participant 2d). At that time of my began to put these [tales] into my study, I did not contact authors to ex- books. When I was teaching there were plicitly ask them why they included no books with characters who were deaf characters or who their intended deaf. I wanted deaf children to be the readers included. heroes so that is why I wrote the After starting my Blog, I began asking books.” When asked what she hopes these questions. While the deaf authors young readers will gain from her certainly hope that deaf youth will read books, she explained, “I hope the chil- their books, their comments have not dren who are deaf will use the charac- necessarily excluded hearing youth ters as role models. It was a bit sad in a from making up their fan base. Deaf school I was visiting when a girl who is author Anne Colledge, Falling Into deaf asked me, „Could a deaf person Fear, was a teacher of the deaf for thirty write a book?‟ We have to say, „Yes,‟ quot;Young Girl Reading, and put the books in their hands for years before becoming an adolescent 1776quot; by Jean-Honoré Fragonard literature author. She explains, “I en- them to read.” Colledge further joyed teaching deaf children very (Continued on page 6)
  2. 2. Page 2 Letter from Sharon Dear Readers, Happy New Year and welcome to another issue of YADC. I had planned to have this issue out in early February; however with the semester underway and Julie (the graphic designer who helped make the newsletter pretty) being promoted and having to resign from her post as my own personal graphic designer, I had to quickly learn Publisher. So sorry for the delay. I can not believe that it is already 2008! I‟m hoping to make your 2008 filled with exciting reads through my quot;100+ Books and Countingquot; list of Deaf Characters in Adolescent Literature on my Blog (http://pajka.blogspot.com/). At the time of this letter, I have 173 contemporary books listed including some upcoming publications that I‟ve included in this newsletter. Since the beginning of my blog, I have worried that at some point the books would just stop coming OR that I wouldn‟t be able to find the new releases anymore. What I have found, especially over the last few months, is that authors, publishers, book review- ers, and bloggers are contacting me about upcoming releases. I don‟t have to go digging (that much) anymore. Many of the authors and their publishers are even sending me review copies or galley copies of their books. When I receive a copy of the book before it is released on the market, I have time to read the book and contact the author for an interview before the publication date. This is great news for us (me and you) and them (authors, publishers, etc.). When timed correctly the Deaf Characters in Adolescent Literature blog can help publicize the new book which gives you a new book to read and hopefully increases the number of copies sold. Win-Win! Right? One of the questions that I usually ask the authors, especially if they are hearing, is WHY. Why include a deaf character? Read my feature story to find out what the authors say. As always, I love hearing from you and your students about the books you are reading! Feel free to contact me at yadeafcharacters@gmail.com Happy Reading, Sharon Pajka-West, Ph.D. New in the bookstore for 2008 The New Avengers My Most Excellent Year Mask of the Jackal A Touch of Grace The Sign for Drowning: Issue #39 Marvel by Steve Kluger by Christine Harris by Lauraine Snelling A Novel Comics (March (March 2008) (2008) (March 1, 2008) by Rachel Stolzman 2008) (June 2008)
  3. 3. Page 3 What’s on my bookshelf Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson (2007) Helen Keller. Readers experience the life of Reading level: Ages 9-12 Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller through Hardcover: 208 pages journals written by Annie Sullivan. Readers Publisher: Putnam Juvenile learn about Sullivan's abusive father, her ISBN-10: 0399239898 relationship with her quot;invalidquot; brother, and Set in 1971, main character, Frannie, enjoys her experiences teaching Helen Keller. analyzing Emily Dickinson's poem, quot;Hope is the thing with feathers/ that perches in the soulquot;. When a Deception’s Full Circle by J.G. Martinson new boy enters the school, the class bully nicknames him Reading Ages: Mature Teen to Adult (Adult Language, quot;Jesus Boyquot; because of his pale skin and long hair (and Gore, and Violence) because the new student is the only white student in the Paperback: 352 pages classroom). Publisher: AuthorHouse (July 13, 2007) Frannie's brother, Sean, is deaf and uses sign language ISBN-10: 1425986234 throughout the novel. The book covers issues such as the In this CSI/ detective-style mystery, Martinson weaves in sev- Vietnam War, adolescents' questions about God, issues of eral plots that readers must figure out the characters‟ connec- racial segregation and deafness. Note: the family per- tions throughout the novel. Only at the very end, are the plots ceives Sean's deafness in a positive light. truly concluded. Set in Maryland, Deception‟s Full Circle introduces readers to detectives Mara and Eddie, a CODA and a fluent Ameri- Changes for Julie (American Girls Collec- can Sign Language user. When several deaf tion) by Megan McDonald (Author), individuals with Cochlear Implants suddenly Robert Hunt (Illustrator), Susan McAliley die from mysterious causes, Mara and Eddie (Illustrator) (September 2007) are on the case and begin investigating a Reading level: Ages 9-12 psychotic surgeon who uses a series of pseu- Paperback: 104 pages donyms and fake identities. Simultaneously, Publisher: American Girl ISBN-10: there is a Unabomber-type terrorist, self-identified as the 1593693540 Signbomber, on the loose who begins bombing medical cen- Julie is sent to detention for passing a note to Joy, a new deaf ters that provide Cochlear Implants surgeries. student who has trouble understanding what their teacher is saying. Determined to change the rules for detention and The Silent Time by Paul Rowe (September the system itself, Julie decides to run for student body presi- 2007) dent. Her choice for vice president is Joy....but then Julie Paperback: 200 pages worries (mostly because the girls in the class aren't thrilled Reading Ages: Crossover with her decision) that she won't be elected if she partners Paperback: 352 pages with someone so quot;differentquot;. Will Julie compromise her prin- Publisher: Killick Press ciples? Will she win the election? Read the book to find out. This is a charming novel that introduces read- ers to characters in Three Brooks, Newfound- Miss Spitfire by Sarah Miller land in the early 1900s. The deaf character, Dulcie, is not the Pub. Date: July 28, 2007 main character but a strong secondary character whose story- Age Range: 10 to 12 line is weaved throughout the entire book. Dulcie attends the Hardcover: 240pp Halifax School for the Deaf in the early 1900s, similar to the Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing author's late mother, Elizabeth Rowe (readers learn this in the ISBN: 1416925422 acknowledgements section). This book offers an alternative approach to the story of
  4. 4. Page 4 On Television Medium Episode 406 | Season 4 | 02/18/2008 A 12-year-old girl and her cat watch In connection with the recent Godzilla. The cat responds to the sound of glass break- episode of Medium, I would ing, but the girl, obviously deaf, responds to the cat, recommend visiting the blog, Chat With Bryen at getting up to investigate. The window on the kitchen http://www.chatwithbryen.com door is broken, and two masked men enter as the girl Bryen blogged while he was watching the episode. screams. Allison wakes up, shocked to find she is deaf. He analyzed, made predictions, and basically did Joe gets on the phone right away, setting up an ap- what I want my students to do…talk to the text. pointment to see a specialist in the morning. When I was reading Bryen‟s entry (after seeing the Visit NBC.com to watch the video if you missed this episode), I kept thinking „what a great lesson plan episode although I do idea!‟ This activity includes reading the closed not believe they have captioning, reading images from television, writing, closed-caption avail- analyzing the show, questioning and predicting. able on-line. Even non-educational blogs can become educational! In the theatre New in the Movies: Deaf Character played by Deaf Actor Gallaudet Student, Russell Harvard acts in the film, There will be Blood, released on December 26. Harvard plays the role of H.W., the quot;adoptedquot; son of an oil tycoon Daniel Plainview (played by Daniel Day-Lewis). The film is set in the California frontier at the turn of the 20th century. Plainview is a silver miner who hopes to make his fortune in oil. When his son becomes deaf due to an accident near the oil derrick, the father quot;abandonsquot; his son on a departing train. He most likely sends H.W. away to a school for the deaf. There Will Be Blood is based on the novel Oil! (1927) by Upton Sinclair For more information about the film and to find out if it is released in a theatre near you, visit http://www.therewillbeblood.com/
  5. 5. Page 5 On television Aside from writing adolescent literature books and acting, Marlee Matlin will be dancing! ABC announced the celebrity cast of the next season of quot;Dancing with the Starsquot; will include actress along with other cast members including: Priscilla Presley, Steve Guttenberg, Shannon Elizabeth, Adam Carolla, tennis player Monica Seles, illusionist Penn Jillette, singer Mario, Miami Dolphins' Jason Taylor, Marissa Jaret Winokur, Olympic gold medalist figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi, and Chilean actor Cristian de la Fuente. The first episode is set to be- Marlee Matlin gin with a live performance March 17th . In April, we‟ll be able to see Matlin on both ABC‟s Dancing with the Stars and on CBS. She will be acting in Sweet Nothing In My Ear , a play by Playwright Stephen Sachs which was adapted for a Hallmark Hall of Fame television movie set to air on CBS. Sweet Nothing in My Ear premiered in 1997 at The Fountain Theatre, where Sachs was the co- artistic director. The television version of Sweet Nothing In My Ear is directed by Emmy Award-winning Joseph Sargent and stars Academy Award winner Marlee Matlin and Golden Globe winner Jeff Daniels. In the play, Laura, who is deaf, and Dan, who is hearing, are a young couple who have been happily married for nine years. Their son Adam was born hearing, but by age six he has lost his hearing. When Dan decides to pursue the possibility of a cochlear implant for his son, a divisive wedge is driven between husband and wife that threatens to shatter their marriage. Read Captions Across America™ for Read Across America Day (March 3, 2008) Read Captions Across America™ is a national reading event with an emphasis on the importance of captioned media as a reading tool for children whether they are deaf, hard of hearing, or hearing. Events and activities will take place nationwide on Read Across America Day (March 3, 2008) and through- out the week before and after this special day. This is the third year Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP) is partnering with the National Education Association (NEA) to celebrate Read Across America, observed in conjunction with the birthday of beloved children's author Dr. Seuss. For More Information, Visit: http://www.dcmp.org/About/PRelations/Events.aspx
  6. 6. Page 6 Why do authors include Deaf Characters? (cont.) (Continued from page 1) comments, “I hope hearing children will gain an insight Hearing author T.C. Boyle, Talk, Talk explains, “a good about what it means to be deaf and how small changes novelist should be able to portray the point of view of in how they treat deaf people can make all the anyone, of any culture”. Boyle makes this statement difference”. Another deaf author, J.G. Martinson, after visiting Gallaudet University and conducting the Deception’s Full Circle, explains, “After teaching Eng- needed research for including a realistic deaf charac- lish to deaf high school students for many years, I feel ter. Nearly all of the hearing authors that I have inter- this is a great book for young students to gain a wider viewed have included a deaf character in their novels understanding of the controversy and bring together after being inspired by actual deaf people and/or col- worlds.” He further comments, “I think this book will laborating with members of the Deaf community. elicit great discussions about cochlear implants, deaf In his forthcoming novel My Most Excellent Year: A culture and why it has been such a unique but important Novel of Love, Mary Poppins, and Fenway Park, Steve issue for more than a decade to the deaf communities. Kluger reveals that his character Hucky was a deaf Radicalism that clash with moderates and liberal views character who continually crept into his mind for vari- are positively and entertainingly described in Decep- ous storylines before he finally surfaced his recent tion's Full Circle for the sole purpose of educating deaf book. The inspiration for this character was a young and hearing readers and hopefully will remain in their boy Kluger met thirty-some years ago while attend- minds for years to come.” Similar to Colledge, ing nursery school. Kluger did not just recall the Martinson adds, “I'd like to let young deaf writers young boy. To make Hucky‟s character realistic, Kluger know that they can make fantastic stories to publish enrolled in an American Sign Language course. and writing is a wonderful way to express them- Hearing author Jacqueline Woodson, Feathers, knew selves.” that she wanted to write books that spoke to the people who were historically excluded from popular literature. Woodson, who created the only African-American Deaf “I'd like to let young deaf writers know that character that I have found in adolescent literature, was they can make fantastic stories to publish raised in a community that included a vast array of indi- viduals including various deaf individuals. “What I and writing is a wonderful way to express remember about the deaf people I knew was that no one signed and often they weren't in school. When I themselves.” started reading (as a child) I was often surprised to find — J.G. Martinson, Deception’s Full Circle the world I knew didn't exist in literature and as an adult, wanted to put that world on the page. Once I grew up and met a larger Deaf community, I began to (Continued on page 7)
  7. 7. Page 7 Why do authors include Deaf Characters? (cont.) (Continued from page 6) “I wanted to be able to visit schools that were see the variations in this community were just as they for the Deaf or walk into a classroom where were in other communities - variations in language, ways of living, levels of education, etc.” Woodson notes there were deaf kids and be able to that her book is not just about the deaf character, Sean, but how the characters‟ worlds impact one another. communicate with them without an Woodson studied American Sign Language at the NY interpreter. ” Society for the Deaf and interacted with Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals. When asked why she included a —Jacqueline Woodson deaf character, she explains, “Many of my friends are interpreters and although I did not want to be an the character because I had taught students who used interpreter, I wanted to speak to Deaf children as I hearing aids and because I have friends who are hard spoke to hearing ones -- I wanted to be able to visit of hearing.” Similarly, Janice Greene, Read My Lips, schools that were for the Deaf or walk into a class- has a son who is hard of hearing and wears hearing room where there were deaf kids and be able to aids; and CODA Paul Rowe, The Silent Time, includes a communicate with them without an interpreter. deaf character who attends the Halifax School for the Over the years, I've found that this makes SUCH a Deaf based on his mother‟s childhood experience. difference for the young person -- to see that a person Megan McDonald, Changes for Julie (American Girls cared enough to learn their language….Putting Sean on Collection), grew up meeting deaf children with whom the page is a way of beginning -- yet again, the her social worker mother worked. From her experi- dialogue between the hearing and the deaf commu- ences with the children, McDonald began learning sign nity.” language from the time she was in high school and Other authors did not have to necessarily go out of their continued her sign language studies in college. When way to meet deaf people. Deaf and hard of hearing in- writing her American Girls Collection series, her deaf dividuals were already part of their lives. Eleanor character Joy was a natural addition to the storyline. Robins, Just Be Yourself, explains, “I decided to include As author Penny Warner states, “No two deaf people are alike”; however, the more examples of deaf charac- ters in adolescent literature, the more likely accurate portrayals of deaf people will occur. And just as deaf The inspiration for the author’s deaf individuals are vastly different from one another, the portrayals of the deaf characters differ depending on character was a young boy Kluger met thirty- how the author views deaf people. some years ago while attending nursery References: school. Pajka-West, S. (2007). The portrayals and perceptions of deaf characters in adolescent literature. (Ph.D. disserta- tion, University of Virginia, 2007). ProQuest Digital Dissertations UMI No. AAT 3238142.
  8. 8. Winter: Sharon‟s feelings quot;In the midst of winter I found within me an invincible summer.quot; -Albert Camus SPW:...but the Gulf of Mexico helps Read the YADC blog! http://pajka.blogspot.com/ E-mail us! yadeafcharacters@gmail.com Off the page... Taking this show on the road…. I‟ll be presenting my research on Deaf Characters in Adolescent Literature at the following conferences: February 8: Georgia Council of Teachers of English at Callaway Gardens, Georgia (http://www.gcte.net/) April 3 & 4: The 42nd Annual TESOL Convention in New York City (http://www.tesol.org/) Look for……. My forthcoming chapter “Deaf Characters in Comics” in Meet, Clash and Grapple: Teaching Graphic Novels in the Context of Student’s Social Worlds , NCTE and, my book review “The Silent Time by Paul Rowe” in Newfoundland and Labrador Studies Journal The Assembly on Literature for Adolescents (ALAN) I've have been invited to serve as the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents (ALAN) State Representative for Washington D.C. As one of the State Representatives, my job is to spread the word about the organization and to recruit new members. Membership dues are $20.00 per year and it includes the journal, The ALAN Review. I like the section called Clip & File which includes reviews of newly published adolescent literature books. Their website includes tons of book recommendations and a book club! ALAN supports books with deaf characters enabling me to publish an article in their Summer 2007 issue and featuring book reviews with deaf characters including Jacqueline Woodson's 2007 novel, Feathers. Check out the website http://www.alan-ya.org/ and consider joining. I love ALAN because they focus on adolescent literature, a part of literature that is often neglected.