10 July 2012
Silent Star: The Story of Deaf Major Leaguer William Hoy
Illustrated by Adam Gustavson
Lee & Low Books
Categories: Picture Book, Biography
$18.95 US (Hardcover)
Reading Level Grades 3-4
In this tale of ball-playing perseverance, baseball enthusiast Bill Wise (also the author of Louis Sockalexis: Native American Baseball Pioneer) takes us on a journey through the life, times, and biggest baseball moments of William "Dummy" Hoy, America's most famous deaf major league baseball player.
Accompanied by the stunning impressionistic and historically accurate oil illustrations of Adam Gustavson-- depictions of the uniforms and equipment of the late nineteenth century take center stage throughout-- we follow Hoy from the onset of his deafness at age three, to his childhood in the mainstream and his discovery of language, companionship, and baseball at the Ohio School for the Deaf, to learning a trade as a shoemaker, then through his baseball career with amateur teams right up into the big leagues. Wise deftly combines play-by-play baseball description, scenes from Hoy's daily life, and thematic exposition throughout.
Wise strikes an effective balance between casting Hoy as a regular boy who dreams of playing baseball and an inspirational figure who overcomes his deafness in the face of society's doubts and misunderstandings about what deafness means for his ability to play professional sports. Information about Deaf culture and etiquette, including the visual applause by fans in the opening scene, and a tactful explanation of Hoy's "Dummy" nickname and the use of terminology "deaf and dumb," are peppered throughout, making this book a perfect introduction for children previously unexposed to Deaf culture. And for sign language buffs, check out the inside covers for illustrations of baseball hand signals, the use of which Hoy and other deaf players are often credited with initiating.
Silent Star is particularly a must-have in any deaf or hearing support classroom; Hoy's dedication and indisputably impressive career as a professional sportsman makes him an important role model for deaf and hard-of-hearing children with all kinds of dreams and interests. And, as the reading levels of deaf children often come under fire, its ever important that deaf children have access to books that they find interesting and relatable. But the message to chase one's dreams is not one that should be limited to the deaf education-- teachers of all elementary school students should consider Silent Star as an addition to the classroom library, and a lesson in both diversity and determination.
-Review by Sara Nović
To read more reviews, or purchase Silent Star visit Lee & Low's website here. For a chance to win a free copy of your own, follow us on Twitter @Redeafined to enter the sweepstakes!