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Show Me a Sign

By: Ann Clare LeZotte

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. It will make you forever question your own ideas about what is normal.

ISBN: 9781338255812

JLG Release: Jul 2020


Sensitive Areas: Crime: Against Children , Discrimination: Ableism , Discrimination: Disability , Discrimination: Racial Insensitivity/Racism , Violence: Child Abuse
Topics: Deaf children , Chilmark, Massachusetts , Kidnapping victims , Identity , Human experimentation in medicine , Sign language , Deaf community , People with disabilities , Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts , Nineteenth-century US history

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Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

Publishers Weekly*, Booklist*, School Library Journal*

School Library Journal

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 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. Exceptionally written, faced paced, and full of topics that will inspire deep discussion. A valuable addition to secondary elementary or middle school collections.

Book Details

ISBN

9781338255812

First Release

July 2020

Genre

Fic

Dewey Classification

F

Trim Size

8 1/4" x 5 1/2"

Page Count

288

Accelerated Reader

Level 5.1; Points: 7;

Scholastic Reading Counts

N/A

Lexile

Level 730L

Format

Print Book

Edition

Hardcover edition

Publisher

Scholastic Press

Potentially Sensitive Areas

Crime: Against Children , Discrimination: Ableism , Discrimination: Disability , Discrimination: Racial Insensitivity/Racism , Violence: Child Abuse

Topics

Deaf children, Chilmark, Massachusetts, Kidnapping victims, Identity, Human experimentation in medicine, Sign language, Deaf community, People with disabilities, Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, Nineteenth-century US history,

Standard MARC Record

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Cover Art

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Book Genres

Historical Fiction

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