Title: I Talk With My Hands: The Contest
Author: Jeanne Mansfield and Gail Leonard
Major Themes: Deafness, Sign Language
Synopsis: Danny learned more sign language and lip-reading while building a birdhouse in order to try to win a bicycle in a contest.
I rarely see a children’s book offered for review that I think sounds like one I would like my children to read, or would like to read to them. I Talk With My Hands: The Contest sounded like it might be a good one, so I requested it, and we read it together. It’s a short book, only 13 mostly 4-page chapters, so it didn’t take too long to get through.
Danny, a deaf boy, wants to win a contest and get a bicycle for a prize. To win the contest, he must come up with some sort of craft item that he can make by himself. He enjoys building birdhouses, so he sets to work coming up with a unique design. As he thinks about it, and shops for the needed supplies, he converses with his family and friends by signing or texting. His family spends time playing games with him so that they can all learn to sign better, and he also has lip-reading and speech classes to help him communicate with others better.
Danny has a run-in with a boy about his age in a store one day. It seems like Nathan is always trying to pick a fight with him. What can Danny do about that? He enjoys texting a friend from the area his family moved from a few months ago, and playing games with his sister and some new friends. Though he can’t hear, Danny enjoys life just like anyone else does, and works to find good ways to communicate with the people around him.
I found I Talk With My Hands a very simple story. It is good for young children who like a fairly gentle story. The main purpose of this book is to teach children about deafness and sign language. The plot is pretty weak, though. As I said, it appeals to children younger than about eight, who don’t mind a story without much action.
I received a review copy of this book from the author, and these are my honest thoughts about it.
WARNING: Nathan bullies Danny at times.
Listening Level—Ages 5 – 8
Reading Independently—Ages 7 – 9