This piercing exploration of ableism and racism answers the call to dig deep, examine core beliefs, and question what is considered normal. Perfect for summer reading, distance learning, and schools, peer, and family book groups.
Deaf author and librarian Ann Clare LeZotte weaves a riveting Own Voices story inspired by the true history of a thriving deaf community on Martha's Vineyard in the early 19th century.
* "A must-read." -- Kirkus Review, starred review
"LeZotte's novel is more than just a page-turner. Well researched and spare... sensitive... relevant... Middle-grade readers of every age will find a girl to root for who is asking all the right questions." -- Newbery Medalist, Meg Medina for the New York Times
"A triumph." -- Brian Selznick, creator of Wonderstruck and the Caldecott Honor Book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret
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.
* "Mary's dramatic adventure will enthrall readers, but her internal journey...is equally important, and 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
About the Author
Ann Clare LeZotte is a Deaf librarian, and the author of T4, an ILA Notable Book for a Global Society, which Booklist called "a powerful debut." For years, Ann has given book talks, and disability and anti-bullying presentations in American Sign Language (ASL). Ann says, "I never had a romance about being 'special' or 'different.' I wished long and hard to be normal. A waste of time and a heartbreak I don’t want other young people to experience." In her free time, Ann enjoys swimming and walking her dog Perkins. She lives with her family in Gainesville, Florida.
Praise for Show Me a Sign:
"LeZotte's novel is more than just a page-turner. Well researched and spare, it's a sensitive portrayal of a young girl's fight for respect and human dignity... Like Laurie Halse Anderson's "Seeds of America" trilogy, this work of historical fiction offers a fresh perspective on the post-Revolutionary War years by exploring issues that are just as relevant today. Middle-grade readers of every age will find a girl to root for who is asking all the right questions as she grows." -- Newbery Medalist, Meg Medina for the New York Times
* "LeZotte weaves threads of adventure, family tragedy, community, racism, and hearing people's negative assumptions about Deaf people into a beautiful and complex whole. Mary overcomes her own ordeal with the support of her community, but in the process she discovers that there is no silver bullet for the problems and prejudices of the world. There is no hollow inspirational content to be found in this tale... LeZotte acknowledges the racial tensions among the English, black, Irish, and Wampanoag residents of Martha's Vineyard, creating a dynamic that Mary interacts within but cannot fix... A vivid depiction of Deaf community along with an exciting plot and beautiful prose make this a must-read." -- Kirkus Reviews, starred review
* "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." -- The Horn Book, starred review
* "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... 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." -- School Library Journal, starred review
* "LeZotte's engrossing historical novel explores prejudice and racism through the eyes of 11-year-old Mary Lambert, who is deaf. ... LeZotte, who is deaf, deftly connects the islanders' prejudice against the Wampanoag to the mainlanders' view of deaf individuals as lesser; Mary's progressive attitudes feel modern while aligning with her character's sensibilities." -- Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Show Me A Sign is the rare book by a Deaf writer illuminating the Deaf experience for young readers. LeZotte takes us on an extraordinary journey that Deaf readers will surely identify with, and which will come as a revelation for hearing readers, reminding us that, as LeZotte says in the book, "We are fine as we are made." Show Me A Sign is a triumph for everyone!" -- Brian Selznick, creator of Wonderstruck and the Caldecott Honor Book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret
"There is so much to love about Show Me a Sign, I hardly know where to begin. LeZotte's storytelling is engrossing, and Mary is an endearing, resilient hero. This book blew me away. I can't wait to share it!" -- Alex Gino, Stonewall Award-winning author of George
"Show Me a Sign celebrates our differences and our sameness, our past and our future. Spend time in Mary's world. You'll be better for it." -- Erin Entrada Kelly, author of the Newbery Award Winner, Hello, Universe
"Precise and thoughtful... LeZotte's depiction of language is striking -- the reader sees the difference in conversations in spoken English and MVSL -- and 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." -- Booklist
"An interesting and very enjoyable work of historical fiction about a time period and topic that has rarely been written about... LeZotte's writing is fresh, crisp, and exciting. The way she portrays the deaf community and the nuances of sign language make the story all the more informative and readable... The information in her [back matter] notes is so intriguing." -- School Library Connection, Highly Recommended
"A remarkable story." -- Martha's Vineyard Times