“Nobody’s Perfect” and “Deaf Child Crossing”

Nobody’s Perfect

Marlee Matlin and Doug Cooney, Authors

Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, 2007 , Fiction

Suitable for: Grades 4 -7 (Ages 8-12)

Themes:  Deaf, Hearing Impairment, Autism, Perfection, Disabilities

Deaf since she was 18 months old, Marlee Matlin draws upon her own childhood experiences in her middle grade novel Nobody’s Perfect, a companion to her first book Deaf Child Crossing.  Her protagonist, Megan Merrill, is a strong, happy and spirited 4th grader who is engaging from the start.  Megan has been planning her “positively purple birthday party sleepover” for months  She returns to school from Christmas vacation with purple invitations for all 11 girls in her class.   A new girl, Alexis Powell, joins the class.   Alexis distances herself from the other girls, excels in school and sports, and appears to be perfect.   Megan makes many attempts to be a friend to Alexis, who is rude and mean.  Megan begins to think that Alexis doesn’t like her because she is deaf.  When the teacher forces the girls to be partners on a science fair project, the tension escalates and Megan discovers there is something Alexis has been hiding.  The girls learn an important lesson — no one is perfect.

What I like about this book:  The main character is deaf, but Marlee created a protagonist with so much spunk and compassion for others.  There are brief mentions of the tutor who signs for her during class.   Megan wonders if the new girl doesn’t like her because she’s deaf.  But, she is centered enough that she is the one who gives the rude new girl many second chances, until there is a major confrontation between the two girls.   But, Megan is your average fourth grader who is interested in school, parties and friendships.  This is a great book for girls with hearing impairments.  The novels first grabbed my attention because I have a daughter who is hearing impaired.  She is an adult now, but I would have loved to have handed her these books when she was 10.   Megan is a great role model for girls who are deaf or hearing impaired.  This book is more about ability than disability.

Deaf Girl Crossing

Marlee Matlin

Aladdin Fiction, 2004

Suitable for: Grades 4-7  (Ages 8-12)

Themes:  Deaf, Friendship, Summer Camp

Megan is excited when she learns a new girl her age is moving into the neighborhood.  She is also apprehensive and wonders if the new girl will make fun of her because she is deaf and wears hearing aids.  She’s tired of having to stick up for herself.  Megan meets Cindy and they become best friends very quickly.  Cindy soon learns sign language so she can better communicate with Megan.

The girls decide to go to summer camp together and bunk in the same cabin.   Cindy tries to help Megan by speaking for her.  Megan is upset and ignores Cindy, who is clueless.  Their friendship is further tested when Megan meets another camper who is deaf.  Megan becomes fast friends with Lizzie and they sign faster than Cindy can understand.   Their friendship is at stake and they must find a way to repair the wounds.

What I like about this book:  This book is the first book in the series.  Megan is a feisty and willful girl.  She has learned to stand up for herself because of her hearing impairment.  Megan wants to be normal and do things for herself.  So, she’s embarrassed when her friend Cindy steps in to help her.  Cindy doesn’t understand.  There are many lessons to be learned in this story   including what is a best friend.  It applies to all friendships.  These lessons play out in Matlin’s second book, Nobody’s Perfect.

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About Patricia Tiltonhttp://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

37 thoughts on ““Nobody’s Perfect” and “Deaf Child Crossing”

  1. Isn’t it exciting how many excellent books ARE out there addressing so many issues. I quite often read on blogs comments similar to yours, “I wish this book had been available when I was… or when my child was ….”. Thank you for introducing us to ‘Nobody’s Perfect’ and ‘Deaf Child Crossing’.

    • Thank you Joanna. There are so many more books available for children than when we were growing up — and our children. There are a few books out there for deaf children, including a number of picture books. I found one I especially like and will review for younger children. Matlin’s books are so credible because she wrote based on her own experiences. And, she had parents who helped her become very independent.

  2. I do like the protagonist’s confidence that comes across in your review. I do hope with your own family experiences, that you will consider writing a picture book one day with a hearing impaired protagonist? :)

  3. These books sound wonderful, and it’s one of those weird confluences of events that just this morning I saw a great video of a woman signing with her deaf 2-year-old toddler. I’ll attach the link here if I can find it again. But it was great because even without words, you could see that the toddler was developmentally exactly at the same point in language acquisition as a hearing child – the way she expressed herself, the things she laughed at – the video is delightful. These books seem to present the same type of character – a normal girl despite hearing challenges.

    http://www.allproudamericans.com/deaf-2-year-old-and-mom-communicate-in-sign-language.html

    • Susanna, I appreciate your comments. The video is great! I know that they are using sign language with very young children, so they become less frustrated. And in the first book I reviewed, Megan uses signing to communicate with a child who is autistic, and the family is shocked that their son can communiate. A lot of his tantrums were because of his frustration. My daughter has moderate hearing impairement, wears hearing aids. She never let anything get in her way, nor did we. But, kids were cruel and by high scool, she refused to wear them. She’ had enough teasing.

    • Susanna, What an incredible video! The two year old knows so much! and they were having a good conversation. Perfectly appropriate for her age. So cute when they started talking about her tummy! lol.

      Thanks for this link.

  4. Teasing is cruel no matter what age. I had it during a job before I got bilateral hearing aides. They thought I was stupid but in reality I just couldn’t hear. I feel for your daughter who would rather have this than the aides.
    Sounds like a book I could learn from, huh?
    So glad there are so many books on all the different disabilities you can imagine. Makes it easier for self acceptance and if enough other kids or parents read them bullying and teasing can be down in scale, too.

  5. I didn’t know about these books. My mom told me that Ms. Matlin is an actress too. The stories seems like ones anyone would like. I am going to see if myschool library has them. Have you read Wonderstruck yet? There are two stories going on at the same time in the book and the main characters in both stories are deaf. The one story is told all in pictures.

  6. Finally – a celebrity book that is GOOD! Well, two books actually.

    Thank you for reviewing these books. I will definitely share the recommendation with others. A private school near me, the Beverly School for the Deaf, has just re-named itself as The Childrens Center for Communication and is accepting children with a broad range of communication differences. Progress!

    • Cathy, I can always count on your honesty. :) These books are written from Marlee’s own experiences, so she knows what she’s writing about. Shes also written other books. I really like that the Deaf school near you has selected a new name. It is exciting that they are accepting a broad range of communication differences. I know that signing is useful for families with autisic children that don’t speak. By the way, “My Brother Charlie” is an excellent picture book written by Holly Robinson Pete (celebrity) and her daughter. It’s from her daughter’s point of view. Her twin brother is autistic.

  7. I like your section: What I Like about the Book. Our fourth and fifth grade classes focus on discrimmination. These books would help the children see points of view of persons they may come across in their life time.

    • MaryHelen, thank you for visiting. I am so glad you liked the books, as there are many lessons in this book. My daughter was hearing impaired and she was one of 3 in just about all of her schools. They are good discussion books. I think you spelled your website wrong and left out the “s” because I had to search for your site.

  8. Thank you for your reply. Oh, my blogging last night was crazy. Sorry about the website.It is booksavors.wordpress.com. Yes, I am in the Comment Challenge. I have participated in the Slice of Life Challenge on TwoWritingTeachers blog and found the comments spurred me forward in my writing. With the day to day schedule, comments are a positive. :)

  9. Oh I love Marlee Matlin she is a wonderful actress and I had no idea she had written these two books. Definately on my Must Read list. I was asked to look after a deaf class when I was in school and learnt some sign language from the kids. I remember years later a small child was lifted onto the counter at work and she signed for her mother everything I said as my signing was very rusty, (wish I had kept it up).
    Love that Megan is portraid as not only a strong independent but also has a gentle forgiving heart in the face of misunderstanding.
    These are wonderful books that children will learn a lot from, thankyou Pat as always great review and we learn so much.

    • Diane, I didn’t know you knew how to sign. That is great that you had some involvement with deaf students. You are a natural at what ever you decide to do. Will admit I really enjoyed these books. These are great books for hearing impaired to see themselves and for other kids to learn about hearing problems. So glad you liked the selection.

  10. Love the idea for your blog and how you put these two books into themes. There are so many great children’s books out there. When will I have time to read all these? :)

    • Margo, thank you for stopping. I’m glad you enjoyed the book reviews. You must be from the challenge. I am trying to get around. My blog is focused on finding the best books with strong protagonists for children with special needs.

  11. Thanks for sharing. I had to compile a booklist for an editor a few months ago and could have used these suggestions. Will add them to my master list, though! Glad this comment challenge allowed me to find your blog.

  12. Pat, these sound wonderful. What a great couple of books to share. I am particularly intrigued with the “nobody is perfect” book because it is SO true, yet something we all often forget. I think it is especially hard when someone is young – to realize the truth of that title. I also love that it talks about a girl with the disability of being deaf, helping kids to understand and be more comfortable getting used to different challenges that people face.

  13. Hi Pat, I have to agree with the earlier comment written by ThisKidReviews – I have just recently read (and scheduled a book review) of Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick – my ten year old daughter is currently reading it – and she has likewise fallen in love with it. I am thinking that it would be a perfect companion book for these two books that you have just introduced to us. It’s my first time to hear of Marlee Matlin, and I am glad to discover new books through you! :)

    • Myra, thanks for the reminder about Wonderstruck. Will have to check it out. Marlee Matlin is an well-known actress, and the books really reflect her own experiences being totally deaf as a child. Her protagonist was strong. And, I loved her stories. Good role model for hearing impaired and deaf children.

  14. Pingback: Comment Challenge 2012 – GatheringBooks Dives In – A Running Update «

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