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Show Me a Sign

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  89 ratings  ·  28 reviews
Deaf author and librarian Ann Clare LeZotte weaves an Own Voices story inspired by the true history of a thriving deaf community on Martha's Vineyard in the early 19th century.
Mary Lambert has always felt safe and protected on her beloved island of Martha's Vineyard. Her great-grandfather was an early English settler and the first deaf islander. Now, over a hundred years
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published March 3rd 2020 by Scholastic Press
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Average rating 4.24  · 
Rating details
 ·  89 ratings  ·  28 reviews

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Audra (Unabridged Chick)

2/3/2020: Review live on Historical Novel Society. Great read for this year's #ReadHarder challenge (MC with a disability).


Received this ARC to review for the Historical Novel Society magazine; longer review to come near the book's release in March. Needless to say, really loved this #ownvoices historical novel of a Deaf 11-year-old girl who finds her beliefs challenged by events in her insular Martha's Vineyard community.
Lisa Welch
Nov 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book had so much about it to love - the characters, the history of early settlers on Martha's Vineyard (and the large percentage who were deaf), the history on the early settlers taking land away from Native Americans, and so much more. I think this is an excellent book for late elementary/early middle school students!
Mar 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One cannot appreciate or think higher of a book, in recent memory, that paints such a tale of the early (and sometimes reoccurring) Deaf experience. The praise that could be given to the author's choices, and personal experience and perspective as a member of the Deaf community, would not and could not be measured or limited. Ann Clare LeZotte is a storyteller that Mary, Ezra, and Miss Hammond would cherish, just like her current (non-fictional) ones.

A librarian by trade, LeZotte knows what
Casey Jo
Nov 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wowzers!!! So good!
Dec 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Mary Lambert is a hero for the ages: smart, compassionate, resourceful, plucky, resilient. Mary is also Deaf, which is not uncommon in the small community of 19th century Martha's Vineyard where twenty-five percent of the residents are Deaf. The members of the community are all well-versed in sign language and communication between the Deaf and the hearing is seamless. Mary doesn't consider her life anything out of the ordinary. However, it's been a difficult year for the Lamberts. A ...more
Mar 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kids
I love this book. I love reading an #ownvoices tale of deafness that never even considers lack of hearing to be a disability. I love the fantastic historical setting, the excellent story, the thoughtful struggles of the heroine, and her continuous courage -- not courage to be a deaf person in a world that includes speaking -- courage to take responsibility for her actions, to empathize and consider the plight of others, to hold herself to a standard of kindness, and the endure when placed in a ...more
Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved it! The main character is so endearing, and I found the perspective of life in the Deaf community of the time fascinating. So well written and obviously well researched.
Ms. Yingling
Dec 10, 2019 rated it liked it
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Mary Lambert lives on Martha's Vineyard in the community of Chilmark, where 1 in 25 of the population were deaf in the 1800s. Her father is deaf, but her mother and brother George are not. Since a sizable portion of the population is deaf, most of the community can use a local version of sign language and lip read, so Mary does not feel limited in her activities or her future. Her brother has recently been killed in a road accident, hit by a carriage driven by the
Kathy MacMillan
Feb 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The history of Marthas Vineyard Sign Language has fascinated me ever since I first devoured Nora Groces seminal ethnography Everyone Here Spoke Sign Language: Hereditary Deafness on Marthas Vineyard (Harvard University Press). Not only was MVSL one of the building blocks of American Sign Language, but the history of Marthas Vineyard showed a wonderful example of what can happen when everyone has equal access to communication. Ann Clare LeZotte brings the island community to life, and no doubt ...more
Mar 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens-books
A deaf author writes the story of a deaf protagonist living on Marthas Vineyard in the 19th century in a community with many deaf residents where the majority of people use sign language when they speak. Mary has never known any other place than her beloved village on Marthas Vineyard where her deafness is not seen as a disability. Her great-grandfather came from England and settled on the island over a hundred years ago. So when a scientist intent on figuring out the cause of the deafness of ...more
Miz Lizzie
There was a time when Martha's Vineyard's English settlers had a larger than normal population of Deaf people due to inherited deafness. The community as a whole developed their own sign language. This novel explores this history with Mary Lambert, a Deaf girl, whose encounters with a researcher from the mainland result in her kidnapping. She becomes aware for the first time that in most places at that time (early 1800s) Deaf people are treated as imbeciles and defectives. The first part of the ...more
Ava Budavari
This book really took me by surprise in the best way. It is one of the most unique stories Ive ever read. The #ownvoices deaf representation is amazing and I learned so much about deaf culture, deaf history, Wampanoag history, and New England history that I knew nothing about. Although this is a middle grade story, anyone of any age can get something out of this. Pick up your copy 3/3/20. So well done. ...more
Feb 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This middle grade story is a great choice for student book clubs and groups because of the discussions related to prejudices and biases that can be held. Don't skip the back matter. Thank you Scholastic for an ARC.
Mar 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens, dv, historical
The characterization in this novel was excellent. I could see multiple layers to the emotional reactions of everyone in the community, especially the mother character who is not always sympathetic. Mary is trying to reconcile with the death of her brother, and I do wish a tiny bit more time had been spent on the ways in which all of the family members feel that they are partly to blame. It's sort of swept aside because after the emotional reveal she is kidnapped, and the energy of the story ...more
Laura Gardner
Feb 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 big, BIG stars for Show Me a Sign by Ann Clare LeZotte; thanks to @scholasticinc for the free copy to share with @kidlitexchange .
It's rare that I read a book that transports me so completely and immerses me in an experience wholly different from my own. I sped through this book in only a few hours and then slowed down to read the significant historical material that the author includes at the end. LeZotte (a Deaf librarian) has managed to write an adventure story that deftly explores
Mar 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-lit
This is an Own Voices childrens novel, with a Deaf author writing a Deaf protagonist. Set in the village of Chilmark on Marthas Vineyard in 1805, Mary Lambert has grown up seeing all villagers, hearing or deaf, using sign language. When a researcher comes to investigate why the island has so many more deaf people than the average population, Mary is first exposed to the idea that people consider deafness a disability or a disadvantage. But when the researcher kidnaps Mary as a live specimen, she ...more
Mar 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Mary is a young girl who was born deaf. Her father is also deaf, but her mother and brother are hearing. They live in a unique deaf settlement on Martha's Vineyard in the 1800s. Imagine the challenge of being deaf during that time before modern-day advances such as technology! Mary is quite intelligent using MVSL (Martha's Vineyard Sign Language), gestures, and writing to communicate. She is able to read and write well, but she can't read lips. However, an arrogant scientist arrives on the ...more
Mar 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Show Me a Sign by Ann Clare LeZotte is a riveting book unlike any other. Set in 1805, Eleven-year-old Mary is ahead of her time in observing social injustice and racism. Mary lives on an island in Marthas Vineyard and like many on the island is Deaf. Being Deaf is completely normal, her father is Deaf, many of her neighbors are and even those who can hear can sign. Mary and her family are mourning the death of Marys brother, when a stranger comes to town to find out why so many people on the ...more
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Show Me a Sign is historical fiction about the deaf community on Martha's Vineyard. The story is beautiful, uplifting, frightening, and just...everything. It calls for readers to be understanding and to embrace differences. Ann Clare LeZotte is an author I will definitely be keeping my eye on, and I think everyone else should too.
Mar 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens, 2020
What an enjoyable and informative book! I learned about Marthas Vineyard deafness and early American island life in the 1800s. I love that this book was written by a librarian who is Deaf, because it gave me a richer understanding of the nuances of language and life as a person with deafness. Highly recommend. ...more
Mar 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: deaf-rep

Historical fiction that EXCELLENTLY interweaves Deaf culture, Deaf history, the history of the Deaf communities and sign language on Martha's so many good things! I wish I had had this book to include in my paper for my Deaf Culture class

note: I am hearing, and, while on a hiatus, am studying to be an ASL interpreter.
Taylor Wilson
Feb 19, 2020 rated it liked it
I love that this book introduces readers to some history they probably don't know about: the prevalence of the deaf community on Martha's Vineyard in the 19th century. I will definitely be adding this book to my classroom library, but nothing about the story particularly grabbed me.
Annie Grace
Mar 19, 2020 rated it liked it
I have mixed emotions about this book. Show Me a Sign is based on the true historical fact that between 1640 and the late 1800s being deaf was a common occurrence on Marthas Vineyard. The story follows an 11-year-old deaf girl named Mary around the year 1800. The first half of the book is somewhat slow going as we get to know Mary, the other characters, and what life was like on Marthas Vineyard at that time period. The book starts to pick up in the second half when Mary is kidnapped by an ...more
The first half of the book may be a little slow for some readers. The second half really picked up the pace and made for exciting reading that I couldn't put down.
Feb 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
I would not want my students reading this. I got to 67% and decided I am far better off without this book in my life. I am disturbed to say the least.
Mar 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Mar 22, 2020 rated it liked it
So much new and interesting territory for middle grade fiction, which makes it extra disappointing that I just could not get into this one.
rated it it was amazing
Mar 26, 2020
Jennifer Kelley
rated it it was amazing
Mar 28, 2020
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Deaf--bilingual, bicultural. Author of T4: A Novel in Verse (Houghton, 2008) and Show Me a Sign (Scholatic, 2020). Library Youth Services for 11 years and counting. Focus on underserved populations and inclusion. Lives with her family in Gainesville, Florida.

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