APPLE IS MY SIGN by Mary Riskind
Kirkus Star


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In the wake perhaps of the play Children of a Lesser God, the first story of a deaf child in which the deaf speak, vividly--through dialogue that conveys a sense of fingerspelling and signs. It is 1899, and ten-year-old Harry Berger is off to Mr. Bertie's School for the Deaf, in Philadelphia. At home--a Pennsylvania apple farm (hence the nickname ""Apple"")--his deaf father is suspicious of the hearing, and both parents sign discreetly in public, afraid of stares. Now, outgoing Harry has deaf friends to confide in, to joke and roughhouse with--especially Landis. ""You not lonely,"" says Landis on hearing that Harry's whole family, unlike his, is deaf. ""My mother, father not like signing. First want me talk. Read-lips."" And he imitates, to Harry's delight, ""the big, chewing mouths the hearing people who worked about the school used to make the children understand."" In an ""a-c-c-i-d-e-n-t,"" Harry hurts one of the other boys, who doesn't tell: ""Deaf must together."" He also ventures over the school wall, in search of a marvelous motorcar, and gets lost: how to make his predicament known? And Mr. Bertie inveigles him into speaking--by showing him the miraculous effect of ""Whoa"" on the school horse. There are other brimming episodes--an uproarious football game, with a hearing school, in particular--before Harry goes home for vacation. . . to face, and overcome, the barriers. An exuberant book that should do a lot to put across the natural feelings, and special circumstances, of deaf kids.

Pub Date: March 23rd, 1981
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin