Show Me a Sign
Show Me a Sign
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Perma-Bound from Publisher's Hardcover13.67
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Annotation: It is 1805 and Mary Lambert has always felt safe among the deaf community of Chilmark on Martha's Vineyard where practically everyone communicates in a shared sign language, but recent events have shattered her life; her brother George has died, land disputes between English settlers and the Wampanoag people are becoming increasingly bitter, and a "scientist" determined to discover the origins of the islands' widespread deafness has decided she makes the perfect "live specimen"--and kidnapped her.
Catalog Number: #214079
Format: Perma-Bound from Publisher's Hardcover
Copyright Date: 2020
Edition Date: 2020
Pages: 269 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 1-338-25581-9 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-7873-8
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-338-25581-2 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-7873-2
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2019027510
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
Mary Lambert, 11, narrates this story, set in the early nineteenth century, about Chilmark, a community on Martha's Vineyard. One in four residents are deaf, and everyone speaks Martha's Vineyard Sign Language (MVSL). Into this community comes Andrew Noble, a young Boston scientist who wants to study the Deaf population in order to pinpoint an external cause for the deafness. He is arrogant and condescending, and he manages to offend almost everyone. Dissatisfied with his research, Andrew kidnaps Mary and takes her to Boston as a "live specimen." Although subjected to horrible treatment, Mary makes her way home. LeZotte's portrayal of Mary is precise and thoughtful, as the girl absorbs and analyzes everything she experiences. LeZotte's depiction of language is striking e reader sees the difference in conversations in spoken English and MVSL d she thoughtfully addresses tensions among the white, Black, and Wampanoag people who share the island. LeZotte, who is Deaf, makes the point that nothing should stand in the way of building community and seeking equality, a sentiment that resonates today. Though, like today, there are still no easy answers.
Horn Book
In 1805 Chilmark, on Martha's Vineyard, eleven-year-old Mary Lambert's family is grieving the death of her brother George in a horse-cart accident. In the larger picture, English-settler residents (Mary's family among them) and the Wampanoag are on opposite sides of a land dispute, causing strife and division. But what causes not a drop of tension is the fact that a significant percent of the English population, including Mary, is Deaf, with many families having both hearing and Deaf members, so everyone is adept at sign language and no stigma is attached to deafness. The novel opens slowly, with Mary, in her direct and intelligent first-person present-tense narration, setting the scene (as well as gradually revealing her agonizing guilt over her role in George's accident). But with the arrival from Boston of a scientist studying the causes of what he calls Deaf islanders' "infirmity," the pace increases, and readers find themselves immersed in a thriller, as Mary endures a violent abduction, enforced servitude, and abusive experimentation. Her eventual rescue is both nail-bitingly suspenseful and empowering, as she plays an active part in freeing herself. Everything about this novel is nuanced, from the syntax of the sign language to the discussions of island politics and history. Mary's dramatic adventure will enthrall readers, but her internal journey -- from being an uncomfortable witness to prejudice (including her mother's toward the Wampanoag and freedmen, or former slaves), to experiencing it herself, to determining to oppose it by leading by example -- is equally important, and profound.
Publishers Weekly
Set in 1805, LeZotte-s engrossing
School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 3-7 Free-spirited, inquisitive 11-year-old Mary Lambert loves to spin stories. She's also deaf, as are her father and many others on Martha's Vineyard. No one knows why the island has such a high population of deaf people. Mary's friend Ezra Brewer, the old seaman, says that deafness is in the blood and was brought to the island when the original Lamberts settled there more than 100 years ago, in 1692. Signing is the only language Mary has ever known, and her life is full. But when tragedy strikes her family, she keeps a deep secret from her parents; she knows it is all her fault. Her relationship with her mother becomes strained, and everyone is on edge. Learning that a scientist is coming to the island to study why there are so many deaf residents sparks Mary's curiosity. He charms her mother and many others on the island, but Mary soon discovers his intentions are not honest while falling victim to his deceitful plan. She is taken from her home and becomes his "live specimen" for scientific study. Her struggle to regain control of her life in a world where the deaf are considered "moronic" and her determination to find a way home will take all of her strength, cunning, and courage. LeZotte crafts a moving tale of 1805 Martha's Vineyard that highlights issues still relevant more than 200 years later, including racism, ableism, and prejudice. Colonialism of the Wampanoag land as well as a perception of savagery among the Indigenous people, the preconceptions of the deaf, and a family's attempt at overcoming tragedy while remaining whole are the underlying themes in the novel. But these themes add nuance to the expertly crafted story of Mary, her response to her situations, her courage, and her hope that she will reunite with the community she loves. VERDICT Exceptionally written, faced paced, and full of topics that will inspire deep discussion. A valuable addition to secondary elementary or middle school collections. Carol Connor, Cincinnati Public Schools
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
Starred Review for Horn Book (2/1/20)
Starred Review for Publishers Weekly (2/1/20)
Schneider Family Book Award (2/1/20)
School Library Journal Starred Review (3/1/20)
ALA Booklist (2/1/20)
Word Count: 46,187
Reading Level: 5.1
Interest Level: 3-6
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.1 / points: 7.0 / quiz: 506689 / grade: Middle Grades
Lexile: 730L

Don't miss the companion book, Set Me Free


Winner of the 2021 Schneider Family Book Award * NPR Best Books of 2020 * Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2020 * School Library Journal Best Books of 2020 * New York Public Library Best Books of 2020 * Chicago Public Library Best Books of 2020 * 2020 Jane Addams Children's Book Award Finalist * 2020 New England Independent Booksellers Award Finalist

Deaf author Ann Clare LeZotte weaves a riveting story inspired by the true history of a thriving deaf community on Martha's Vineyard in the early 19th century. This piercing exploration of ableism, racism, and colonialism will inspire readers to examine core beliefs and question what is considered normal.

* "A must-read." -- Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"More than just a page-turner. Well researched and spare... sensitive... relevant." -- Newbery Medalist, Meg Medina for the New York Times

"A triumph." -- Brian Selznick, creator of Wonderstruck and the Caldecott Award winner, The Invention of Hugo Cabret

* "Will enthrall readers, but her internal journey...profound." -- The Horn Book, starred review

* "Expertly crafted...exceptionally written." -- School Library Journal, starred review

* "Engrossing." -- Publishers Weekly, starred review

"This book blew me away." -- Alex Gino, Stonewall Award-winning author of George

"Spend time in Mary's world. You'll be better for it." -- Erin Entrada Kelly, author of the Newbery Award Winner, Hello, Universe

Mary Lambert has always felt safe and protected on her beloved island of Martha's Vineyard. Her great-great-grandfather was an early English settler and the first deaf islander. Now, over a hundred years later, many people there -- including Mary -- are deaf, and nearly everyone can communicate in sign language. Mary has never felt isolated. She is proud of her lineage.

But recent events have delivered winds of change. Mary's brother died, leaving her family shattered. Tensions over land disputes are mounting between English settlers and the Wampanoag people. And a cunning young scientist has arrived, hoping to discover the origin of the island's prevalent deafness. His maniacal drive to find answers soon renders Mary a "live specimen" in a cruel experiment. Her struggle to save herself is at the core of this penetrating and poignant novel that probes our perceptions of ability and disability.

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