Books about and for Deaf Children

Books about and for Deaf Children Series Cover

As part of our efforts to share with readers the full range of human experience, Royal Fireworks Press offers four novels for children on the subject of deafness. Three of them are by Deb Piper, who has drawn on more than twenty years of experience working with deaf children to write about the school life of Jake, who has become a particular favorite of hard of hearing students and who has found a following among his peers in the mainstream as well.

Michael Thal was a teacher who became severly hard of hearing later in life. He created the story of twelve-year-old David, a violinist who suddenly becomes deaf. Thal says, "Deafness is a silent disability. It isolates and ignores. We need to bring this issue to the forefront and help deaf children and their peers come to learn how to live comfortably and positively with each other."

Royal Fireworks is also pleased to present the first of a series of books designed to teach young children American Sign Language in the context of a fun story. The book, titled Hand Talk: Reni's Feelings, can be found here.

As part of our efforts to share with readers the full range of human experience, Royal Fireworks Press offers four novels for children on the subject of deafness. Three of them are by Deb Piper, who has drawn on more than twenty years of experience working with deaf children to write about the school life of Jake, who has become a particular favorite of hard of hearing students and who has found a following among his peers in the mainstream as well.

Michael Thal was a teacher who became severly hard of hearing later in life. He created the story of twelve-year-old David, a violinist who suddenly becomes deaf. Thal says, "Deafness is a silent disability. It isolates and ignores. We need to bring this issue to the forefront and help deaf children and their peers come to learn how to live comfortably and positively with each other."

Royal Fireworks is also pleased to present the first of a series of books designed to teach young children American Sign Language in the context of a fun story. The book, titled Hand Talk: Reni's Feelings, can be found here.

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Jake's the Name, Sixth Grade's the Game

Author: Piper, Deb

Subjects: School Experience; Family/social relationships; Disabilities; Deafness

Age: 10, 11, 12, 13

Grade: 5, 6, 7

ISBN: 978-0-88092-135-8

Order code: 1358

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 1358S

Jake's the Name, Sixth Grade's the Game Cover

This is a humorous first-person account by a deaf boy mainstreamed into the sixth grade of a public school. Jake speaks about what it is like for him and about his perceptions of how other people react to him. He is a typical adolescent boy, with opinions about everything who is coping with the changes of growing up, trying to understand his parents, and trying to figure out his buddies, who are now acting flat-out weird around girls. He is also a scamp at heart, and his antics will make readers laugh out loud.

Entertaining and informative, Jake will be particularly dear to mainstream receiving teachers, professionals in the deaf and hard-of-hearing fields, interpreters, and adolescents schooled in mainstreamed classes.

Deb Piper has been an educational interpreter for the deaf for 25 years. She says, "As an avid reader with an interest in children's literature, I felt there was a void needing to be addressed for deaf and hard-of-hearing children about what experiences they confront on a daily basis in mainstream settings. I wanted to approach familiar topics children could relate to from a humorous perspective and a likable character. Jake seems to have accomplished that goal."

Jake's adventures continue in Those Sevy Blues and From A to Zulinski.

This is a humorous first-person account by a deaf boy mainstreamed into the sixth grade of a public school. Jake speaks about what it is like for him and about his perceptions of how other people react to him. He is a typical adolescent boy, with opinions about everything who is coping with the changes of growing up, trying to understand his parents, and trying to figure out his buddies, who are now acting flat-out weird around girls. He is also a scamp at heart, and his antics will make readers laugh out loud.

Entertaining and informative, Jake will be particularly dear to mainstream receiving teachers, professionals in the deaf and hard-of-hearing fields, interpreters, and adolescents schooled in mainstreamed classes.

Deb Piper has been an educational interpreter for the deaf for 25 years. She says, "As an avid reader with an interest in children's literature, I felt there was a void needing to be addressed for deaf and hard-of-hearing children about what experiences they confront on a daily basis in mainstream settings. I wanted to approach familiar topics children could relate to from a humorous perspective and a likable character. Jake seems to have accomplished that goal."

Jake's adventures continue in Those Sevy Blues and From A to Zulinski.

Jake's the Name, Sixth Grade's the Game Cover

Those Sevy Blues

Author: Piper, Deb

Subjects: Guidance; School Experience; Disabilities; Deafness

Age: 10, 11, 12, 13

Grade: 5, 6, 7

ISBN: 978-0-88092-422-5

Order code: 4225

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 4225S

Those Sevy Blues Cover

Jake returns in this sequel to Jake’s the Name, Sixth Grade’s the Game.

Jake is in seventh grade now, and he's just as humorous and feisty. He's loaded with self-esteem and is ready to share his experiences of being mainstreamed. The compassionate, strong, and irascible interpreter Mrs. Berge returns, too. Seventh grade in Jackson Junior High School offers challenges, harrowing experiences, and delicately wrought humorous insights as to what it's like to be deaf in a hearing world.

The story starts with Day One and the dreaded book dump and includes episodes in the boys’ locker room (changing into sports uniforms en masse for the first time), basketball, Personal and Family Life Science (a.k.a. Home Economics/Cooking), football (tackling practice), the Fall Fling (school dance), Industrial Technology and a bloody accident, Shakespeare in English class and studying for vocabulary/spelling tests, World Geography and foods to taste before they are identified, and cross-country skiing. Jake also becomes introspective about his ISS (in-school suspension) and his possible jealousy of the new deaf kid in class, Jon, who is good in sports and who might offer him competition for Mrs. Berge and elsewhere. Jake’s narrative ends on the last day of school, his last day of being a seventh grader—a sevy. The class is at the Wide World Amusement Park, land of heart-stopping thrills and accidents waiting to happen.

Jake's school experience continues into high school with From A to Zulinski.

Jake returns in this sequel to Jake’s the Name, Sixth Grade’s the Game.

Jake is in seventh grade now, and he's just as humorous and feisty. He's loaded with self-esteem and is ready to share his experiences of being mainstreamed. The compassionate, strong, and irascible interpreter Mrs. Berge returns, too. Seventh grade in Jackson Junior High School offers challenges, harrowing experiences, and delicately wrought humorous insights as to what it's like to be deaf in a hearing world.

The story starts with Day One and the dreaded book dump and includes episodes in the boys’ locker room (changing into sports uniforms en masse for the first time), basketball, Personal and Family Life Science (a.k.a. Home Economics/Cooking), football (tackling practice), the Fall Fling (school dance), Industrial Technology and a bloody accident, Shakespeare in English class and studying for vocabulary/spelling tests, World Geography and foods to taste before they are identified, and cross-country skiing. Jake also becomes introspective about his ISS (in-school suspension) and his possible jealousy of the new deaf kid in class, Jon, who is good in sports and who might offer him competition for Mrs. Berge and elsewhere. Jake’s narrative ends on the last day of school, his last day of being a seventh grader—a sevy. The class is at the Wide World Amusement Park, land of heart-stopping thrills and accidents waiting to happen.

Jake's school experience continues into high school with From A to Zulinski.

Those Sevy Blues Cover

From A to Zulinski

Author: Piper, Deb

Subjects: Guidance; School Experience; Disabilities; Deafness

Age: 13, 14, 15, 16

Grade: 9, 10, 11, 12

ISBN: 978-0-88092-713-0

Order code: 7130

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Class sets: 10 or more: $7.00 each.
Order code: 7130S

From A to Zulinski Cover

This is the third volume in the chronicles of the irrepressible Jake. We first met him in Jake's the Name, Sixth Grade's the Gameand we continued following his exploits in Those Sevy Blues.

Jake is deaf and has relied on an interpreter to sign for him in his classrooms. For most of his teachers and classmates, he was the first mainstreamed deaf student they had encountered. By the time he reaches high school, Jake has a deaf classmate and long acquaintance with his peers. They know what mischief he can generate. The book is a series of flashbacks from his high school graduation, where Jake Zulinski has plenty of time for remembrance while his classmates receive their diplomas in alphabetical order.

For example, there was the explosion of parts in small engine repair and the major problem in the welding class. Jake remembers his first date and the girl's father, who was more than a little concerned. There was the problem of sign language in the darkroom in photography and of his female interpreter in the boys' locker room for track. Then there was the incident...but you'll have to read the book to find out how much mayhem one student can cause.

Deb Piper has drawn on more than twenty years of experience working with deaf children to create this highly popular character. Jake has become a particular favorite of hearing-impaired students, and he has found a following among his peers in the mainstream as well.

This is the third volume in the chronicles of the irrepressible Jake. We first met him in Jake's the Name, Sixth Grade's the Gameand we continued following his exploits in Those Sevy Blues.

Jake is deaf and has relied on an interpreter to sign for him in his classrooms. For most of his teachers and classmates, he was the first mainstreamed deaf student they had encountered. By the time he reaches high school, Jake has a deaf classmate and long acquaintance with his peers. They know what mischief he can generate. The book is a series of flashbacks from his high school graduation, where Jake Zulinski has plenty of time for remembrance while his classmates receive their diplomas in alphabetical order.

For example, there was the explosion of parts in small engine repair and the major problem in the welding class. Jake remembers his first date and the girl's father, who was more than a little concerned. There was the problem of sign language in the darkroom in photography and of his female interpreter in the boys' locker room for track. Then there was the incident...but you'll have to read the book to find out how much mayhem one student can cause.

Deb Piper has drawn on more than twenty years of experience working with deaf children to create this highly popular character. Jake has become a particular favorite of hearing-impaired students, and he has found a following among his peers in the mainstream as well.

From A to Zulinski Cover

Goodbye Tchaikovsky: A Novel

Author: Thal, Michael

Subjects: School Experience; Disabilities; Deafness; Twice-exceptional gifted

Age: 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16

Grade: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

ISBN: 978-0-88092-469-6

Order code: 4696

Price: $14.99
Website price: $10.00

Also an iBook from iTunes

Goodbye Tchaikovsky: A Novel Cover

2nd Place Honors, Royal Dragonfly Book Award Contest, Young Adult Fiction, 2015
Honorable Mention, Paris Book Festival, 2013
Honorable Mention, Hollywood Book Festival, 2012

"Highly recommended."  Midwest Book Review

A twelve-year-old violin virtuoso, David Rothman is an overnight success. He performs Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in New York’s Symphony Hall and gets rave reviews that attract the attention of the Queen of England. His future is laid out for him like a well-lit freeway. Then, on his birthday, David suffers from sudden and irreparable hearing loss, plunging him into a silent world and forcing him to adapt to a new culture and language in order to survive. Written from David's perspective, the novel shows how an adolescent boy sets about coping with what he perceives as a devastating new condition. It takes time. How will he communicate with his friends? What can he do about school? How does he deal with unexpected and possibly dangerous situations? What will his future be like?

Michael Thal grew up on Long Island in the suburbs of New York City. After graduating from the University of Buffalo, he earned his master’s degree in education at Washington University, St. Louis. He moved to Los Angeles and continued his education, earning another master’s degree in reading. He grew up in the hearing world; as a child, he played the violin and went to concerts, movies, and Broadway shows. But as an adult, one day he woke up to deafness, the result of a virus. The virus attacked again six years later, causing him to lose his hearing entirely in his right ear and leaving him with 65% hearing loss in his left. He says, "I can understand people one on one, but not in groups. At the age of forty-four, the severe hearing loss took me away from my job as a sixth-grade teacher. From that experience, I was inspired to write this story. If a person has a willingness to learn and an open mind to explore all possibilities, he can find a way to succeed."

Reviews:

"Told in first-person perspective, Goodbye Tchaikovsky is a story of courage, adaptation, and the struggle to accept a new way of life. Highly recommended." – Midwest Book Review

"...a touching portrayal of a boy who just wants to fit in but finds himself pulled between the hearing and the deaf world. Ultimately, what he really needs to find is himself." – Bergers Book Reviews

"Michael Thal’s Goodbye Tchiakovsky is a great read for entry-level awareness about people with varying degrees of hearing loss. Thal writes about familiar characters that I associate with from my own colorful reality as a deaf person. I was delighted that the main character, David, advanced his visual language skills; he practiced reading (nonverbally) from storybooks with a deaf preschooler who was learning English. The book reminds the reader the importance of literacy for all deaf children." – Jamie Perlman, Orange County Deaf Literacy Project
 
"This book would be an eye-opener for hearing people. As for me, if I had the chance to read it when I began losing my hearing at the age of sixteen, it would have given me hope, comfort, and inspiration. I would recommend
 this book to any young adult or teenager who is going through hearing loss or another disability." – Valerie Stern, LCSW, psychotherapist, Los Angeles 

"Goodbye Tchaikovsky was thoroughly enjoyable and easy to read. Although the book is written for a young audience, I thought of several people I know who would really benefit from the emotional release the story provides. I loved all the characters and the uplifting tone as the main character, David, struggles through this life upheaval." – Jan Seeley, Temple Beth Solomon for the Deaf

"I really liked this book. Simple statement of fact: I don’t know Michael Thal, but I do now know more about deafness and how folks with hearing loss get through a day. I ached for David as he faced new school situations, signing, the loss of his music, and growing up in an entirely different way than he’d ever imagined. But central to my experience as a writer for kids of all ages was how universal Thal made his character’s experience. David is deaf, but he’s so relatable, as we all remember the terror of starting a new school, the pain of losing a friend, the sweetness of a first love, and the ‘oops’ things we all do growing up. How do any of us survive? We do it like David—just by hanging in there, being willing to try something different, and listening even when you can’t hear. For kids or adults, this is an appealing book for all." – Gail Hedrick, former teacher, freelance writer, and editor

2nd Place Honors, Royal Dragonfly Book Award Contest, Young Adult Fiction, 2015
Honorable Mention, Paris Book Festival, 2013
Honorable Mention, Hollywood Book Festival, 2012

"Highly recommended."  Midwest Book Review

A twelve-year-old violin virtuoso, David Rothman is an overnight success. He performs Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in New York’s Symphony Hall and gets rave reviews that attract the attention of the Queen of England. His future is laid out for him like a well-lit freeway. Then, on his birthday, David suffers from sudden and irreparable hearing loss, plunging him into a silent world and forcing him to adapt to a new culture and language in order to survive. Written from David's perspective, the novel shows how an adolescent boy sets about coping with what he perceives as a devastating new condition. It takes time. How will he communicate with his friends? What can he do about school? How does he deal with unexpected and possibly dangerous situations? What will his future be like?

Michael Thal grew up on Long Island in the suburbs of New York City. After graduating from the University of Buffalo, he earned his master’s degree in education at Washington University, St. Louis. He moved to Los Angeles and continued his education, earning another master’s degree in reading. He grew up in the hearing world; as a child, he played the violin and went to concerts, movies, and Broadway shows. But as an adult, one day he woke up to deafness, the result of a virus. The virus attacked again six years later, causing him to lose his hearing entirely in his right ear and leaving him with 65% hearing loss in his left. He says, "I can understand people one on one, but not in groups. At the age of forty-four, the severe hearing loss took me away from my job as a sixth-grade teacher. From that experience, I was inspired to write this story. If a person has a willingness to learn and an open mind to explore all possibilities, he can find a way to succeed."

Reviews:

"Told in first-person perspective, Goodbye Tchaikovsky is a story of courage, adaptation, and the struggle to accept a new way of life. Highly recommended." – Midwest Book Review

"...a touching portrayal of a boy who just wants to fit in but finds himself pulled between the hearing and the deaf world. Ultimately, what he really needs to find is himself." – Bergers Book Reviews

"Michael Thal’s Goodbye Tchiakovsky is a great read for entry-level awareness about people with varying degrees of hearing loss. Thal writes about familiar characters that I associate with from my own colorful reality as a deaf person. I was delighted that the main character, David, advanced his visual language skills; he practiced reading (nonverbally) from storybooks with a deaf preschooler who was learning English. The book reminds the reader the importance of literacy for all deaf children." – Jamie Perlman, Orange County Deaf Literacy Project
 
"This book would be an eye-opener for hearing people. As for me, if I had the chance to read it when I began losing my hearing at the age of sixteen, it would have given me hope, comfort, and inspiration. I would recommend
 this book to any young adult or teenager who is going through hearing loss or another disability." – Valerie Stern, LCSW, psychotherapist, Los Angeles 

"Goodbye Tchaikovsky was thoroughly enjoyable and easy to read. Although the book is written for a young audience, I thought of several people I know who would really benefit from the emotional release the story provides. I loved all the characters and the uplifting tone as the main character, David, struggles through this life upheaval." – Jan Seeley, Temple Beth Solomon for the Deaf

"I really liked this book. Simple statement of fact: I don’t know Michael Thal, but I do now know more about deafness and how folks with hearing loss get through a day. I ached for David as he faced new school situations, signing, the loss of his music, and growing up in an entirely different way than he’d ever imagined. But central to my experience as a writer for kids of all ages was how universal Thal made his character’s experience. David is deaf, but he’s so relatable, as we all remember the terror of starting a new school, the pain of losing a friend, the sweetness of a first love, and the ‘oops’ things we all do growing up. How do any of us survive? We do it like David—just by hanging in there, being willing to try something different, and listening even when you can’t hear. For kids or adults, this is an appealing book for all." – Gail Hedrick, former teacher, freelance writer, and editor

Goodbye Tchaikovsky: A Novel Cover

Goodbye Tchaikovsky pages 1-15:

Links

Hand Talk: Reni's Feelings

Author: Champion, Barbara

Subjects: Guidance; Disabilities; Deafness; Sign Language

Age: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Grade: K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

ISBN: 978-0-88092-228-9

Order code: 2289

Price: $15.00
Website price: $13.00

Also an iBook from iTunes

Hand Talk: Reni's Feelings Cover

Hand Talk: Reni’s Feelings tells the story of Reni, a young boy who struggles to get people, including his mom, to understand him. Reni learns how to use sign language to show if he is hungry, happy, sad, or needs help, as well as other emotions. The story is beautifully illustrated with fun and colorful drawings.   

The second half of the book contains photographs of the author's students that demonstrate how to make more than two dozen signs in American Sign Language, from “don’t want,” “like,” and “tired,” to “I love you,” “excited,” and “scared.”

Reni's Feelings also includes QR codes that will take readers direct to videos of the author demonstrating each sign.

While the book is certainly helpful for deaf or hard-of-hearing children and those around them, it also teaches valuable nonverbal communication skills to special-needs children, minimally verbal children, and very young children, as well as their parents, teachers, caregivers, and anyone else who engages with a child who struggles with spoken language. And it's also a fun way to learn the basics of sign language for those kids who would like to learn a new skill.

Reni's Feelings is the first book in a series that will teach social skills to help children know what to expect or what to do in various situations, such as going to school, to the doctor, or on a playdate.

Reviews from teachers of the deaf and hard of hearing:
"Reni’s Feelings takes the reader on a realistic journey of how challenging life can be for children who don’t have a way to communicate their needs, wants, or frustrations. This delightful book encourages and educates parents on the benefits of teaching their children sign language and closing the communication gap.”  – Sabrina Boykin

"Hand Talk is a short, concise journey into the life of a special needs child. The story very clearly illustrates the feelings of a child with limited communication skills and provides a much-needed tool for parents, siblings, and friends to learn simple signs that can greatly enhance understanding and communication. The pictures are childlike and allow for an immediate connection between the main character and the reader. The inclusion of photographs of special needs children communicating in sign language at the end of the book greatly enhances its authenticity and again allows the reader to make a real emotional connection. I have shared this book with both neighbors and relatives. They just can’t stop talking about Hand Talk."  – Susan Landberg

Barbara Champion has a degree in interpreting and has been working with special needs children since 1999, both through her work as well as with her own family. Her students include those who are deaf/hard of hearing, nonverbal, autistic, and those with special needs such as cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, and others. Champion says: “All of these children have benefited from learning to communicate with sign language. In fact, some of these kids had no language at all before they came into our program and are now able to communicate their feelings, needs, and imagination.” 

Hand Talk: Reni’s Feelings tells the story of Reni, a young boy who struggles to get people, including his mom, to understand him. Reni learns how to use sign language to show if he is hungry, happy, sad, or needs help, as well as other emotions. The story is beautifully illustrated with fun and colorful drawings.   

The second half of the book contains photographs of the author's students that demonstrate how to make more than two dozen signs in American Sign Language, from “don’t want,” “like,” and “tired,” to “I love you,” “excited,” and “scared.”

Reni's Feelings also includes QR codes that will take readers direct to videos of the author demonstrating each sign.

While the book is certainly helpful for deaf or hard-of-hearing children and those around them, it also teaches valuable nonverbal communication skills to special-needs children, minimally verbal children, and very young children, as well as their parents, teachers, caregivers, and anyone else who engages with a child who struggles with spoken language. And it's also a fun way to learn the basics of sign language for those kids who would like to learn a new skill.

Reni's Feelings is the first book in a series that will teach social skills to help children know what to expect or what to do in various situations, such as going to school, to the doctor, or on a playdate.

Reviews from teachers of the deaf and hard of hearing:
"Reni’s Feelings takes the reader on a realistic journey of how challenging life can be for children who don’t have a way to communicate their needs, wants, or frustrations. This delightful book encourages and educates parents on the benefits of teaching their children sign language and closing the communication gap.”  – Sabrina Boykin

"Hand Talk is a short, concise journey into the life of a special needs child. The story very clearly illustrates the feelings of a child with limited communication skills and provides a much-needed tool for parents, siblings, and friends to learn simple signs that can greatly enhance understanding and communication. The pictures are childlike and allow for an immediate connection between the main character and the reader. The inclusion of photographs of special needs children communicating in sign language at the end of the book greatly enhances its authenticity and again allows the reader to make a real emotional connection. I have shared this book with both neighbors and relatives. They just can’t stop talking about Hand Talk."  – Susan Landberg

Barbara Champion has a degree in interpreting and has been working with special needs children since 1999, both through her work as well as with her own family. Her students include those who are deaf/hard of hearing, nonverbal, autistic, and those with special needs such as cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, and others. Champion says: “All of these children have benefited from learning to communicate with sign language. In fact, some of these kids had no language at all before they came into our program and are now able to communicate their feelings, needs, and imagination.” 

The iBook includes short video clips of the author signing the words and phrases and contains links from the story to the picture glossary.

Hand Talk: Reni's Feelings Cover

Links

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