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The Best Thing about this Book is the sign language communication.
Premise: An early American living in 1805 on Martha’s Vineyard, Mary lives among many people who, like her, are deaf. Her mom is hearing, but her dad is not. Life has gotten more difficult since her brother’s death, which Mary feels responsible for, earlier in the year. So when a young scientist arrives and looks a lot like her brother, Mary is unsure of how to react to him, especially when he behaves rudely to the deaf people on the island. But he needs a “live specimen” to prove his theories about deafness on the island. Could Mary be just who he’s looking for?
Target: 4-9 grade
Title: Although Mary does not use modern-day ASL, show me a sign most obviously refers to sign-based communication. However, the modern idiom comes into play as well in a number of ways for you, the reader, to interpret.
Main Character(s): Mary, 11 y.o. (she/her)
Motifs (not exhaustive): grief, communication, deafness, isolation, community, otherness, native peoples, kidnapping, OWN voices
Great for…* (readers): who appreciate a page-turner (but can wait a good chunk to get to the page-turning part) or who love historical fiction.
Great for…* (teachers): exploring different languages and cultures. Some languages and cultures shown in this book include those on Martha’s Vineyard, the mainland (Boston, namely), and the Wampanoag people.
Parental Warning(s): SPOILER!!!!!!!!!!! DON’T READ IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW. Mary is kidnapped and held against her will, at times as a slave and at times as a medical specimen.
Interact: This book has won so many awards, it’s hard to pick just one thing to ask about, so I’ll leave it to you. What’s your favorite thing about this book?
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*The “Great for” category is not exhaustive and does not intend to neglect the multitude of readers/teachers who could learn from this book in any number of ways.
٭ = DNF, would not recommend
٭٭ = would not recommend
٭٭٭ = enjoyable, would recommend
٭٭٭٭ = very good, would recommend
٭٭٭٭٭ = amazing, would definitely recommend