“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.