Deaf Child Crossing [NOOK Book]

Overview

A compelling and humorous story of friendship from Academy Award–winning actress Marlee Matlin.

Cindy looked straight at Megan. Now she looked a little frustrated. "What's the matter? Are you deaf or something?" she yelled back.
Megan screamed out, and then fell to the ground, laughing hysterically. "How did you know that?" she asked as she...
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Deaf Child Crossing

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Overview

A compelling and humorous story of friendship from Academy Award–winning actress Marlee Matlin.

Cindy looked straight at Megan. Now she looked a little frustrated. "What's the matter? Are you deaf or something?" she yelled back.
Megan screamed out, and then fell to the ground, laughing hysterically. "How did you know that?" she asked as she laughed.


Megan is excited when Cindy moves into her neighborhood—maybe she’ll finally have a best friend. Sure enough, the two girls quickly become inseparable. Cindy even starts to learn sign language so they can communicate more easily.

But when they go away to summer camp together, problems arise. Cindy feels left out because Megan is spending all of her time with Lizzie, another deaf girl; Megan resents that Cindy is always trying to help her, even when she doesn’t need help. Before they can mend their differences, both girls have to learn what it means to be a friend.

Despite the fact that Megan is deaf and Cindy can hear, the two girls become friends when Cindy moves into Megan's neighborhood, but when they go away to camp, their friendship is put to the test.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Oscar-winning actor Marlee Matlin teaches us about friendship, differences, and patience in this buoyant and fulfilling novel featuring Megan, a deaf girl, and her new best friend.

Young Cindy's family has just moved to Morton Street, and Megan is already at her doorstep. At first, outgoing Megan seems both exciting and overwhelming, with fast-as-lightning sign language skills, a "voice that sounded different to others," and a personality that could put any neighborhood welcome wagon to shame. Soon the two girls are best buds, and Megan introduces Cindy to her world, chatting with friends online and teaching her signs. Yet whenever Cindy tries to help out her independence-focused friend, Megan gets a bit defensive, leaving Cindy on shaky ground. After Megan finds out she's going to summer camp, Cindy decides to join her friend, and the two are bunked together with the girls of Hot Pink Cabin, including Lizzie, another deaf girl who starts taking up much of Megan's attention. Megan also decides to test her self-sufficiency one night and takes off into the woods, only to get lost until Cindy finds her, much to Megan's frustration. When summer camp's over, however, and the girls return home on non-speaking terms, Megan finally realizes that "no matter who you are, sometimes you're going to need help."

Matlin's first foray into writing novels for young readers is compassionate and proud, addressing deafness head-on without letting the issue become too angelic. Megan is a well-rounded character and her temper sometimes gets the better of her, sending readers a clear message that should resonate long after the book is finished. A fair-minded novel that should change perceptions of folks with different abilities, Deaf Child Crossing will have children and adults sitting up and taking notice. Shana Taylor

Publishers Weekly
Matlin, the first deaf actor to win an Academy Award, makes her fiction debut with this problematic novel about a friendship between two nine-year-old girls. Megan, who is deaf, is almost opposite in temperament from her new neighbor, the bookish, shy Cindy, but nonetheless decides that Cindy will be her best friend. Much of the book's tension relies on the girls' best-friend status, but the friendship isn't convincingly developed. Nor are the characters-even though the point of view alternates between the girls, Cindy seems sketchy next to Megan, and neither voice seems authentic (e.g., nine-year-old Megan asks herself what kind of toys the new girl will have). Matlin is at her best when delving into Megan's inner world, such as her heightened sense of smell (her father-like the other parents, distractingly referred to by his first name-claims her deafness sharpens her other senses) or her anger at not being able to use the phone, but generally these moments are fleeting and the conflicts they evoke too neatly resolved. Unfortunately, the pages are riddled with errors in grammar and syntax ("Like any other home, dinnertime was a chance to share events of day"; a paragraph written in the past tense briefly switches to present tense and back; etc.), further undermining the storytelling. Ages 8-12. (Sept.)
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-When Cindy, who is hearing, moves in down the street from Megan, who is deaf, the nine-year-olds quickly become best friends. Megan wears hearing aids and lip-reads, but the girls become even closer as Cindy begins to learn sign language. Problems crop up when her attempts to be helpful offend Megan's sense of independence, and things get even worse at summer camp, where they meet another deaf girl, Lizzie. While this novel is a solid attempt to chronicle the issues that arise in deaf/hearing friendships, the communication difficulties are often downplayed; for example, Cindy learns to sign in a matter of months and is communicating fluently by the end of camp. The writing, too, is often awkward. Lizzie is never fully realized, though she is the prime catalyst for the conflict between the two main characters. Matlin succeeds, however, in creating a winning, spunky, sometimes frustrating Megan, and if the ending is a bit abrupt or contrived, it is nevertheless in keeping with her actions. Indeed, the story's greatest strength is in demonstrating that the two protagonists' main differences have nothing to do with hearing or the lack of it.-Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, Maryland School for the Deaf, Columbia Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Matlin's intimate insights into being American, female, and deaf infuse the character of Megan, a charming, dynamic, and cantankerous girl, excited that a potential friend her age has moved next door. Her new, hearing neighbor, Cindy, has just moved into the most compelling experience of her life, as she becomes the immediate, sworn, off-and-on best friend of an uncommonly accomplished lip-reading girl who doesn't take no-or any type of criticism-lightly. The characters are envisioned in common-place settings living out the American preadolescent experience in an upper-middle-class lifestyle, one where the world that is built for hearing people bends to every strategic move made by Megan. Her experience is only made possible by intense effort and her family's well-adjusted, mature, and kind approach to an active life. Megan has tasted of every good character-building experience, except summer camp; despite her clear objection and her fear of being bored-or worse: ignored-she manages to place herself at the center of everyone's attention. The plot suffers when Matlin loses sight of its pace and inserts overlong explanations of apparatus used by individuals with hearing disabilities; because the information is more informative than descriptive, it impedes the pace which slows to a dead stop. Though the usefulness of the information is high in terms of knowing facts about the common ways that deaf people function, Matlin's story goes beyond bibliotherapy, so it's unfortunate that the simple and rather leaden text will only appeal to a small group. Megan's rather unique character begs a sequel, but for a broader range of readership. (Fiction. 9-11)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442495159
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 4/30/2013
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 216,385
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • File size: 450 KB

Meet the Author

Marlee Matlin
Marlee Matlin, deaf since she was eighteen months old, won the
Academy Award and the Golden Globe for Best Actress for her role in
Children of a Lesser God. She was nominated for Emmy Awards for
her performances in Seinfeld, Picket Fences, The
Practice
, and Law & Order: SVU. Her film credits include
It's My Party and What the Bleep Do We Know!? She is the
author of Deaf Child Crossing. She has made numerous television
appearances and currently appears on The L Word. Marlee Matlin
lives in Los Angeles with her husband and four children. Visit her at
www.marleeonline.com.
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1: are you deaf or something?

Megan sat on the hood of her father's big blue SUV, watching and waiting for a moving truck to come rumbling down Morton Street toward the Bregenzer house. Of course, Megan thought, it isn't really the Bregenzer house anymore. They moved out in April. Practically every day since the sign had come down, Megan had asked her parents, "When are they moving in?" And they always answered, "Pretty soon." Megan knew they were teasing her, but that didn't matter. The real estate agent who took down the "For Sale" sign told the Merrills that the new owners had a little girl nine years old -- the same age as Megan.

Hardly any kids Megan's age lived in her neighborhood. And the ones who were her age were boys who lived two blocks over, and they weren't really her friends. So this new kid would be the first girl in the neighborhood in a long time. Megan had so many questions running through her head as she waited on the car hood and stared up at the puffy white clouds in the sky. What would the new kid be like? Would she be nice? Funny? What kind of toys would she bring with her? Megan hoped she would have new stuff, unlike the hand-me-down toys and too-big bike she got from her older brother, Matt. But, most of all, Megan wondered if the new girl would be like some of the kids at school who poked fun at her. Megan was tired of having to stick up for herself or have her brother yell at the kids who teased her. She scrunched up her eyes at the memory and pushed those thoughts out of her head. This girl would be different. She knew it. Maybe, Megan thought as she crossed her fingers for luck, she'll be my best friend.

It was the first Saturday of summer vacation, which meant no more homework and no more waking up at the crack of dawn to get to school. Megan scanned the street. Still no moving truck. She looked down at all the huge oak and maple trees on Morton Street, all perfectly lined up on each side of the block. She always wondered if they grew that way or if someone had planted the little saplings in perfect straight lines with rulers when they'd built the street. They were beautiful, towering trees, with big trunks perfect for hiding around during hide-and-seek and low limbs just right for climbing on.

Sometimes on dark winter nights, when the trees had no leaves, Megan imagined the trees turning into giant walking sticks, like the kind she saw in the traveling bug zoo at school. But instead of swallowing unsuspecting flies and spiders, these giant walking sticks swallowed up people and their pets as they walked by. At least that's what Megan's brother, Matt, told her when Mrs. Adams's fat tabby cat turned up missing.

"Probably got eaten up by the trees," Matt said. Megan didn't believe him then, but one night, during a real scary thunderstorm, when some tree branches scraped against their house, Megan was convinced that the trees were coming for them! Her mother told her she was being silly; "trees can't come alive and snatch people." Megan wasn't completely convinced. And just in case, she showed the trees her respect and never carved words on them or peeled off their bark like other kids did.

Megan's nose tickled; it was the smell of freshly cut grass, the perfect summer smell. Megan rolled over on her side and saw old Mr. Rogowski mowing his lawn. Every weekend, unless it was raining, old Mr. Rogowski was out mowing his lawn. Megan's dad made Matt mow the lawn for his allowance, but he always grumbled. Mr. Rogowski never seemed happier than when he was cutting his grass. He was a short little man with a bald spot on the back of his head and had only three fingers on his left hand, which made the kids who lived on the next block over afraid of him. But Mr. Rogowski was always nice to Megan, and besides, Megan's father told her that there was nothing to be afraid of. Mr. Rogowski had lost his fingers in a lawn mower accident, and he was still happy cutting the grass. Megan smiled at the big floppy hat he wore to keep the sun off his bald spot; it was exactly like the hat her mother wore when they went to the beach. Mr. Rogowski looked up from his mower and waved at Megan. She waved back. Megan made it her business to know every person and pet in the neighborhood. Why not? It was Megan's street, and everyone in the neighborhood knew that.

Just then Megan looked up and saw a big truck coming to a stop at the driveway of the Bregenzer home. The movers came up the other end of Morton Street! That was sneaky, Megan thought, laughing to herself. She jumped down from the hood of the car and ran across the street to see her new neighbors.

Megan scurried up to the big oak that was right next to the driveway. From here she could peek around the trunk and watch all the action. Her first look was disappointing. She only saw three moving men starting to work at the back of the truck. They were all wearing gray coveralls with the sleeves cut off and red bandannas tied around their foreheads. Megan noticed their arm muscles because Matt was trying hard to grow his. Megan was going to tell Matt that he should become a mover if he wanted his muscles to grow really big.

But where were the new neighbors? The movers began to unload boxes. And more boxes, and more boxes and more boxes! Megan made sure she saw everything. She looked at the furniture and even the brand-new gardening tools. To Megan, personal belongings said a lot about their owners.

Megan paid close attention to the living room furniture that the movers were bringing in: a long sofa to lie on that she later found out was called a chaise, and two end tables made of dark wood with gleaming handles. How could someone sit in that furniture and watch television? It seemed so stiff and straight!

And then a car pulled up, right behind the moving van. At first it was hard for Megan to see because the June sun was reflecting brightly off of the window, and she had to cover her eyes. But then the doors swung open, and out stepped a couple. The man was tall and thin, with black hair combed very neatly and glasses that he kept pushing back up his nose. The woman was very pretty, with black curly hair just as neat as the man's hair. They both wore pressed tan pants and crisp white shirts. Very clean for moving, Megan thought.

So where is their daughter? she wondered. They're supposed to have a daughter! She remembered the Hammers who lived down the street who had no kids. Mr. Hammer was always chasing kids off his lawn when they tried to play in his leaf piles. Once he had even gone so far as to turn the hose on them. Megan thought it was because he had no kids and didn't understand that sometimes kids just need to jump in leaf piles; she hoped this new couple moving in wouldn't be the same. She crossed her fingers again and ventured closer to the car.

Megan now noticed that the man shouted something over to his wife as he walked up to the new house, but Megan had no idea what he was saying. Megan could tell by their anxious looks that moving day was very stressful for them. Suddenly, another bright reflection from a window flashed in Megan's face, and then she saw the rear of the station wagon open up.

Out stepped a little girl.

The first thing Megan noticed was that she had big brown eyes. Bigger and more brown than even Nancy Culver's, who sat behind Megan in her homeroom class and who had the biggest eyes Megan had ever seen. Nancy liked to gross out the kids in the class by turning her eyelids inside out. The next thing Megan noticed was the new girl's black hair. It was short and wavy, with tight little curls in the back, just like the girl's mother standing next to the car. Megan thought the hairstyle looked a little old-fashioned.

But Megan was still thrilled that the girl was really here. She ran over right to the car.

"Hi there!" yelled Megan, and the young girl nearly jumped out of her sandals. "I'm Megan" she continued to yell, "and I live four houses down from you! I think we should be new best friends!"

Megan knew that her voice sounded different to others, since she couldn't tell how loud or soft she was speaking. Some people said it sounded like she was talking in a box, while others said it sounded like she was imitating a cartoon voice. Still, once people had time to get used to Megan's special way of talking, they didn't seem to have any trouble understanding her.

Megan watched as the girl with the big brown eyes opened them so wide that it almost looked to Megan as if she weren't blinking at all. For a second, Megan imagined that old cartoon where the wolf's eyes pop out and his jaw drops to the ground. This made Megan grin a little. Although she had been speaking this way since she had started taking speech classes at age three, no one had ever been this surprised to hear her voice.

"Hi," said the little girl finally. She shyly tucked her chin to her shoulder when she talked.

"Hi!" Megan repeated with the same voice. "My name is Megan. What's yours?"

The little girl seemed to understand her better this time. "Cindy," she responded quietly, still looking down at the grass. "Cindy Calicchio."

"What?" asked Megan. She couldn't hear her and fiddled with her hearing aids.

"Cindy," said the little girl in a louder voice, but she still didn't look up from the grass.

"I still don't understand you!" Megan yelled. Cindy's mom turned to see why the two girls were yelling at each other.

Cindy looked straight at Megan. Now she looked a little frustrated. "What's the matter? Are you deaf or something?" she yelled back.

Megan screamed out and then fell to the ground, laughing hysterically. "How did you know that?" she asked as she laughed.

"Huh? You mean you are deaf?" Cindy asked meekly.

"Duh! That's why I have these hearing aids!" Megan said as she pointed to her ears and turned her head from side to side so that Cindy could see the bright purple ear molds and hearing aids hanging over each ear. "I am deaf."

Cindy took a moment to let this sink in. "I thought someone put bubble gum in your ears!" she said.

Megan laughed even harder at the thought.

Cindy waited for Megan to stop laughing before she tried asking her another question. "What do they do?" she asked timidly.

"They make everything loud for me. Even though I can't hear a lot of things, I can hear some things with these," said Megan as she stood up again. She purposely turned the little dial on one of the hearing aids until it made a loud squeaking sound like a teakettle that was boiling over. "They're like the headphones my dad wears when he doesn't want my mom to hear his goofy music. Except, for me, they make sounds, not just music, louder."

"You mean you can hear? But I thought you were deaf...," said Cindy.

Megan could see that Cindy was very confused. She went on, anyway. "I can hear a little, but with these on, I can hear more! It's not as much as you can hear, but it helps. And they'll help even more if you look at me when you talk."

Cindy's cheeks flushed with embarrassment.

"Can I finish my lecture now?" Megan asked as she put her hands on her hips.

Cindy giggled and nodded, looking more relaxed. More than that, she looked like she understood everything Megan was saying.

"So you're Megan, right?" asked Cindy cautiously.

Megan nodded enthusiastically. She knew Cindy wasn't confused anymore, and that was the most important thing to her. "Hi, Cindy!" she said, beaming her biggest smile. "Welcome to my neighborhood."

Megan grabbed Cindy's hand and shook it hard. Cindy looked surprised by Megan's grip, but after a moment she shook it right back.

"It's going to be an awesome summer," said Megan.

Copyright © 2002 by Marlee Matlin
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Table of Contents

Contents



  1. are you deaf or something?
  2. apples, sit!
  3. telephones are stupid
  4. what's the sign for...?
  5. salmon patties and summer plans
  6. rolling down the sidewalk
  7. megan's secret
  8. countdown to camp
  9. the right choice?
  10. ozanam at last!
  11. hot pink cabin rules!
  12. the cabin song
  13. mum's the word
  14. a scary story and scarier storm
  15. megan is lost
  16. the search
  17. lost and found
  18. good-bye, camp ozanam
  19. caution: deaf child crossing

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First Chapter

Chapter 1: are you deaf or something?

Megan sat on the hood of her father's big blue SUV, watching and waiting for a moving truck to come rumbling down Morton Street toward the Bregenzer house. Of course, Megan thought, it isn't really the Bregenzer house anymore. They moved out in April. Practically every day since the sign had come down, Megan had asked her parents, "When are they moving in?" And they always answered, "Pretty soon." Megan knew they were teasing her, but that didn't matter. The real estate agent who took down the "For Sale" sign told the Merrills that the new owners had a little girl nine years old -- the same age as Megan.

Hardly any kids Megan's age lived in her neighborhood. And the ones who were her age were boys who lived two blocks over, and they weren't really her friends. So this new kid would be the first girl in the neighborhood in a long time. Megan had so many questions running through her head as she waited on the car hood and stared up at the puffy white clouds in the sky. What would the new kid be like? Would she be nice? Funny? What kind of toys would she bring with her? Megan hoped she would have new stuff, unlike the hand-me-down toys and too-big bike she got from her older brother, Matt. But, most of all, Megan wondered if the new girl would be like some of the kids at school who poked fun at her. Megan was tired of having to stick up for herself or have her brother yell at the kids who teased her. She scrunched up her eyes at the memory and pushed those thoughts out of her head. This girl would be different. She knew it. Maybe, Megan thought as she crossed her fingers for luck, she'll be my best friend.

It was the first Saturday of summer vacation, which meant no more homework and no more waking up at the crack of dawn to get to school. Megan scanned the street. Still no moving truck. She looked down at all the huge oak and maple trees on Morton Street, all perfectly lined up on each side of the block. She always wondered if they grew that way or if someone had planted the little saplings in perfect straight lines with rulers when they'd built the street. They were beautiful, towering trees, with big trunks perfect for hiding around during hide-and-seek and low limbs just right for climbing on.

Sometimes on dark winter nights, when the trees had no leaves, Megan imagined the trees turning into giant walking sticks, like the kind she saw in the traveling bug zoo at school. But instead of swallowing unsuspecting flies and spiders, these giant walking sticks swallowed up people and their pets as they walked by. At least that's what Megan's brother, Matt, told her when Mrs. Adams's fat tabby cat turned up missing.

"Probably got eaten up by the trees," Matt said. Megan didn't believe him then, but one night, during a real scary thunderstorm, when some tree branches scraped against their house, Megan was convinced that the trees were coming for them! Her mother told her she was being silly; "trees can't come alive and snatch people." Megan wasn't completely convinced. And just in case, she showed the trees her respect and never carved words on them or peeled off their bark like other kids did.

Megan's nose tickled; it was the smell of freshly cut grass, the perfect summer smell. Megan rolled over on her side and saw old Mr. Rogowski mowing his lawn. Every weekend, unless it was raining, old Mr. Rogowski was out mowing his lawn. Megan's dad made Matt mow the lawn for his allowance, but he always grumbled. Mr. Rogowski never seemed happier than when he was cutting his grass. He was a short little man with a bald spot on the back of his head and had only three fingers on his left hand, which made the kids who lived on the next block over afraid of him. But Mr. Rogowski was always nice to Megan, and besides, Megan's father told her that there was nothing to be afraid of. Mr. Rogowski had lost his fingers in a lawn mower accident, and he was still happy cutting the grass. Megan smiled at the big floppy hat he wore to keep the sun off his bald spot; it was exactly like the hat her mother wore when they went to the beach. Mr. Rogowski looked up from his mower and waved at Megan. She waved back. Megan made it her business to know every person and pet in the neighborhood. Why not? It was Megan's street, and everyone in the neighborhood knew that.

Just then Megan looked up and saw a big truck coming to a stop at the driveway of the Bregenzer home. The movers came up the other end of Morton Street! That was sneaky, Megan thought, laughing to herself. She jumped down from the hood of the car and ran across the street to see her new neighbors.

Megan scurried up to the big oak that was right next to the driveway. From here she could peek around the trunk and watch all the action. Her first look was disappointing. She only saw three moving men starting to work at the back of the truck. They were all wearing gray coveralls with the sleeves cut off and red bandannas tied around their foreheads. Megan noticed their arm muscles because Matt was trying hard to grow his. Megan was going to tell Matt that he should become a mover if he wanted his muscles to grow really big.

But where were the new neighbors? The movers began to unload boxes. And more boxes, and more boxes and more boxes! Megan made sure she saw everything. She looked at the furniture and even the brand-new gardening tools. To Megan, personal belongings said a lot about their owners.

Megan paid close attention to the living room furniture that the movers were bringing in: a long sofa to lie on that she later found out was called a chaise, and two end tables made of dark wood with gleaming handles. How could someone sit in that furniture and watch television? It seemed so stiff and straight!

And then a car pulled up, right behind the moving van. At first it was hard for Megan to see because the June sun was reflecting brightly off of the window, and she had to cover her eyes. But then the doors swung open, and out stepped a couple. The man was tall and thin, with black hair combed very neatly and glasses that he kept pushing back up his nose. The woman was very pretty, with black curly hair just as neat as the man's hair. They both wore pressed tan pants and crisp white shirts. Very clean for moving, Megan thought.

So where is their daughter? she wondered. They're supposed to have a daughter! She remembered the Hammers who lived down the street who had no kids. Mr. Hammer was always chasing kids off his lawn when they tried to play in his leaf piles. Once he had even gone so far as to turn the hose on them. Megan thought it was because he had no kids and didn't understand that sometimes kids just need to jump in leaf piles; she hoped this new couple moving in wouldn't be the same. She crossed her fingers again and ventured closer to the car.

Megan now noticed that the man shouted something over to his wife as he walked up to the new house, but Megan had no idea what he was saying. Megan could tell by their anxious looks that moving day was very stressful for them. Suddenly, another bright reflection from a window flashed in Megan's face, and then she saw the rear of the station wagon open up.

Out stepped a little girl.

The first thing Megan noticed was that she had big brown eyes. Bigger and more brown than even Nancy Culver's, who sat behind Megan in her homeroom class and who had the biggest eyes Megan had ever seen. Nancy liked to gross out the kids in the class by turning her eyelids inside out. The next thing Megan noticed was the new girl's black hair. It was short and wavy, with tight little curls in the back, just like the girl's mother standing next to the car. Megan thought the hairstyle looked a little old-fashioned.

But Megan was still thrilled that the girl was really here. She ran over right to the car.

"Hi there!" yelled Megan, and the young girl nearly jumped out of her sandals. "I'm Megan" she continued to yell, "and I live four houses down from you! I think we should be new best friends!"

Megan knew that her voice sounded different to others, since she couldn't tell how loud or soft she was speaking. Some people said it sounded like she was talking in a box, while others said it sounded like she was imitating a cartoon voice. Still, once people had time to get used to Megan's special way of talking, they didn't seem to have any trouble understanding her.

Megan watched as the girl with the big brown eyes opened them so wide that it almost looked to Megan as if she weren't blinking at all. For a second, Megan imagined that old cartoon where the wolf's eyes pop out and his jaw drops to the ground. This made Megan grin a little. Although she had been speaking this way since she had started taking speech classes at age three, no one had ever been this surprised to hear her voice.

"Hi," said the little girl finally. She shyly tucked her chin to her shoulder when she talked.

"Hi!" Megan repeated with the same voice. "My name is Megan. What's yours?"

The little girl seemed to understand her better this time. "Cindy," she responded quietly, still looking down at the grass. "Cindy Calicchio."

"What?" asked Megan. She couldn't hear her and fiddled with her hearing aids.

"Cindy," said the little girl in a louder voice, but she still didn't look up from the grass.

"I still don't understand you!" Megan yelled. Cindy's mom turned to see why the two girls were yelling at each other.

Cindy looked straight at Megan. Now she looked a little frustrated. "What's the matter? Are you deaf or something?" she yelled back.

Megan screamed out and then fell to the ground, laughing hysterically. "How did you know that?" she asked as she laughed.

"Huh? You mean you are deaf?" Cindy asked meekly.

"Duh! That's why I have these hearing aids!" Megan said as she pointed to her ears and turned her head from side to side so that Cindy could see the bright purple ear molds and hearing aids hanging over each ear. "I am deaf."

Cindy took a moment to let this sink in. "I thought someone put bubble gum in your ears!" she said.

Megan laughed even harder at the thought.

Cindy waited for Megan to stop laughing before she tried asking her another question. "What do they do?" she asked timidly.

"They make everything loud for me. Even though I can't hear a lot of things, I can hear some things with these," said Megan as she stood up again. She purposely turned the little dial on one of the hearing aids until it made a loud squeaking sound like a teakettle that was boiling over. "They're like the headphones my dad wears when he doesn't want my mom to hear his goofy music. Except, for me, they make sounds, not just music, louder."

"You mean you can hear? But I thought you were deaf...," said Cindy.

Megan could see that Cindy was very confused. She went on, anyway. "I can hear a little, but with these on, I can hear more! It's not as much as you can hear, but it helps. And they'll help even more if you look at me when you talk."

Cindy's cheeks flushed with embarrassment.

"Can I finish my lecture now?" Megan asked as she put her hands on her hips.

Cindy giggled and nodded, looking more relaxed. More than that, she looked like she understood everything Megan was saying.

"So you're Megan, right?" asked Cindy cautiously.

Megan nodded enthusiastically. She knew Cindy wasn't confused anymore, and that was the most important thing to her. "Hi, Cindy!" she said, beaming her biggest smile. "Welcome to my neighborhood."

Megan grabbed Cindy's hand and shook it hard. Cindy looked surprised by Megan's grip, but after a moment she shook it right back.

"It's going to be an awesome summer," said Megan.

Copyright © 2002 by Marlee Matlin

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Interviews & Essays

Marlee Matlin Sounds Off About Deaf Child Crossing

Barnes & Noble.com: Deaf Child Crossing is described as "loosely based on events from your own childhood." How much like Megan were you as a nine-year-old? Were you as extroverted -- and as comfortable with being deaf? Did you share her attitudes/reactions (e.g., did it bother you -- as it frustrated Megan -- when people tried to help you with things that you could do yourself)?

Marlee Matlin: A lot of "Marlee" was written into "Megan." I was always told "write what you know," so who better to write about than myself? I was also told that even though I was deaf, I was the loudest person that everyone knew. I grew up very outgoing. Whenever a new kid moved into the neighborhood, I was the first one to go up to them and say, "Hi, I'm Marlee. I'm your new best friend." That was because my parents just opened up the door every day and encouraged me to go outside and make friends and not let my deafness stand in the way. They made sure nothing was ever denied me. So, much of that had to be part of my book.

However, being told that I could do whatever I wanted despite my being deaf proved problematic at times. In truth, I couldn't do everything I wanted; I couldn't talk on the phone like everyone else, I couldn't "listen" to music like everyone else. So when I was told I could do things like everyone else if I just set my mind to it and then found myself in those situations, I became very frustrated. The chapter in which Megan tries to use the phone expresses that very frustration I had with the telephone while growing up deaf. I remember the experience quite clearly and used this book to express that.

I also recall insisting on doing things on my own despite my friends' desires to help me. I even got in a fight with someone, just as Megan did in the book! Although it was not a pleasant experience, it helped me to write about it and express those frustrations, so that other children could understand that what I went through was quite normal for someone like me.

B&N.com: When you were a child, did you have trouble making friends? Is Cindy based on any particular friend you had?

MM: I never had trouble making friends because my parents made sure that my deafness would never stand in my way. Kids might have had trouble making friends with me because they might have had preconceived notions about someone who was deaf. And I do recall some kids making fun of the way I spoke. But like most kids who are made fun of because they are fat, skinny, short, or tall, I just either ignored it or faced it head-on and said, "So?"

My parents also gave me a great deal of independence and taught me not to dwell on my deafness. That certainly helped me function just as any kid, despite the fact that I was deaf.

As for Cindy, she is a blend of several people I grew up with. I wanted to create a character who was as shy as Megan was outgoing and as interested in helping Megan as Megan insisted on not needing any help. I took a little of one neighbor friend and a little of another and created Cindy to fit the character I was looking for to contrast against Megan's feistiness and independent spirit.

B&N.com: As a child, you, like Megan, were enrolled in public school where you were "mainstreamed" with other children. Was this a positive experience for you? Do you think it's a reason you've achieved so much -- that you were never held back by your hearing loss?

MM: Mainstreaming was the best experience I could have ever had as a child. It validated what my parents were seeking: an environment in which I would be treated just like anyone else with hearing. I went to school with deaf and hearing children and learned to accept my differences side-by-side with other kids whom society didn't perceive as "different." It was great for me, and I certainly don't know where I'd be without having had the experience.

However, I would hate to say that mainstreaming made me a better achiever. I think that would serve to invalidate the thousands of deaf children whose parents have chosen to send them to schools exclusively with other deaf children. There are also great achievers out there whom we might not have heard of yet or who are achievers in their own communities. Not everyone has to be a movie star or Oscar winner to be considered an achiever, and I would never want to invalidate the choices that other parents make for their children.

So let's just say for me that with Don and Libby Matlin as my parents, I probably would have been an achiever whether or not I had become deaf or not. They have a great deal of what is called chutzpah, and that desire to achieve was probably passed along to me at birth!

B&N.com: Megan spends a lot of time "talking" to friends on her computer. Do you think the Internet has significantly opened up the world to deaf people...made being a deaf child easier? Has it changed your own life a lot?

MM: The Internet has been a great tool for people like me who are deaf. It essentially levels the playing field, so to speak. On the Internet, there are no barriers to communication; I can talk with anyone who has access to a computer.

I would think that if I were nine years old again and had access to the computer and Internet, my life would be as different as it has been for all children who are growing up today with access to computers. Now I can talk to virtually anyone, anywhere, and I can open up the world just with the press of a button. That's a great thing!

B&N.com: Why did you decide to write Deaf Child Crossing? What would you like for kids to take away from this story?

MM: I've always wanted to write a book, ever since I sat down and read my first Judy Blume book. In a book there is no "I don't understand what you're saying" or "I can't sign, so how can I talk to you?" from other kids. In a book, I could express my thoughts, hopes, and desires through the printed word, and no communication barrier would be there to stop me.

Just as I did then, I hope that by writing my book, I'll give people a better understanding of what it's like to grow up deaf, and they'll realize that it really isn't much different than growing up with hearing. It's just a matter of perspective. I wanted to provide my unique perspective of the world, and in the end, I hope that children can take away the idea that being different is something to embrace rather than shun.

B&N.com: How do you feel about being a role model for deaf and hearing-impaired children? What kind of advice do you give them?

MM: I understood what it was like to be a role model for kids when at a recent Hollywood event a bunch of mothers came up to me, and instead of saying "Oh, you're on The West Wing!" they said, "My children love you on Blue's Clues!" That really floored me.

I see myself as a wife, mother, and actress who just happens to be deaf. But if there is a little nine-year-old Marlee out there who is inspired to dream because of what I've achieved, then I'll be right there for them, the same way my parents and Henry Winkler were for me. And it's not only been deaf children who have told me that they want to be like me; hearing kids have told me the same as well. I think for all kids who feel somehow different than other kids, my example shows them that as long as they set their minds and hearts to it, they can achieve their greatest dreams. It's that hope that keeps me going every day.

B&N.com: Can you name a few of your favorite children's books?

MM: I loved Judy Blume books when I was growing up. They truly were the inspiration for my book. I also love the classics like Goodnight Moon and Charlotte's Web. Anything that can inspire parents and children to laugh, cry, dream, and love while reading together is considered a favorite by me!

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 11 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 14, 2012

    A cute story about true friendship

    My Thoughts:

    I picked this book up because #1, I love Marlee Matlin, and #2, it follows a girl who is deaf, and a girl who is friends with a girl who is deaf. It is a middle grade book, and a very fast read by comparison to what I read normally. So much of the writing is very simple and easy to follow.

    Megan and Cindy are both very nice girls (although quite stubborn at times). Megan can be obnoxious, and Cindy can be overly helpful. Somehow they manage to overcome their flaws and remain friends. Cindy learns to fingerspell, and Megan starts to teach her how to sign words. They go to camp together and face more tests to their friendship. They learn how to overcome their differences and treat each other with the right kind of respect a person deserves, whether they are deaf or hearing.

    One of my favorite parts in this book is when I find out that Megan is obsessed with Billy Joel. Okay, now you’re thinking, “How can somebody who can’t hear listen to music?” Megan is more hard of hearing than deaf, so with hearing aids she can hear some things, but only when it’s very loud. She even signs the song “Just The Way You Are” for Cindy. And she has a poster of him on her door. Needless to say, I could relate to Megan in that way, because, let’s face it, Billy Joel is awesome.

    All in all, this was a very cute book. Marlee Matlin wrote a genuinely superb story of these two girls and the true meaning of friendship. I recommend Deaf Child Crossing for everyone, but I especially find great value in kids reading it. Understanding how to treat people when they’re deaf (or blind or facing other circumstances out of their control) can go a long way to building lasting friendships. It also ensures a feeling of equality and respect that everyone deserves to have no matter who they are.


    My Rating:

    Very Good: Stay up late

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  • Posted October 25, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A bundle of contradictions...

    Marlee Matlin's Deaf Child Crossing stars Megan Merrill, a profoundly deaf nine-year-old living in Illinois. Her parents and her older brother Matt are all hearing, but they communicate with Megan through a combination of sign language and speech. Megan wears hearing aids and is able to read lips, but is unable to use the telephone, a constant source of frustration for her. <BR/><BR/>As the story begins, Megan is eagerly awaiting the arrival of her new neighbors...of their daughter in particular. She has few school friends, and longs for a friend her own age. Cindy is at first intimidated by the loud, forward Megan (she is unable to modulate her speech volume), but the two strike up a friendship. The two are like day and night: Megan's room is messy, everything is purple, and she plays Billy Joel songs really loudly, where Cindy's room is white, plain, and orderly. Megan is computer savvy, where Cindy's never been on a chat room. Megan is good at Rollerblading, while Cindy runs into things. But Megan and Cindy quickly declare each other BFF: Best Friends Forever, and Cindy tries to learn sign language so that the two have an easier time communicating. <BR/><BR/>Megan becomes really upset when her mom wants her to go to a summer camp, throwing tantrums and going into hysterics. She has a top-secret reason why she's reluctant, but Cindy eventually convinces her that they should go to camp together. Before they even get on the bus, the two have had a major falling out over Cindy signing for Megan in a department store. Megan is furious that Cindy would dare to help her without asking first, and Cindy can't understand what Megan is so upset about. <BR/><BR/>Megan has a lot to learn about being a good friend, though. At camp, she quickly abandons Cindy for Lizzie, another deaf girl. And when Megan and Cindy's cabin comes up with a great idea, Megan claims all the credit, even though it was Cindy's idea. A dramatic ghost story sets the climax in motion, but there's nothing too traumatic. <BR/><BR/>The child-friendly introduction to Deaf culture (Closed Captioning, TDD, sign language interpreters, signing songs) was generally effective, but it would have been nice if a fingerspelling alphabet had been included in the back as was done with the sequel Nobody's Perfect. <BR/><BR/>Overall, I found Deaf Child Crossing to be a bundle of contradictions: Megan is an unlikeable protagonist. She's pushy, whiny, and when she comes up against something she can't do, like talk on the telephone, she throws tantrums and takes out her frustration on her family and friends. Instead of facing challenges, she runs, frequently getting herself into trouble. And she treats her supposed BFF like dirt, not understanding why it's important to give other people credit.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2008

    A Great Book!

    This book was really good! I finished it in a few hours. I couldn't put the book down. I need to read the second book! This book has to be my new favorite! The characters and conflicts are easy to relate to. I found this book very interesting because of Megan. She is deaf, but is very independent. Marlee Matlin perfectly captures each emotion at the right times.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2006

    Spectacular

    I loved this book so much. People can learn a lot about it. I have told everyone I know how good it is. If it wasn't for my mom and dad I would never have had this book. I will keep reading books by this author.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2006

    AWESOME!

    Wow! This book was so amazing. It really has a true & important meaning of friendship and it touches your heart. Marlee Matlin was really creative towards writing this story and i truly loved it... AND SO WILL YOU! be sure to read this best selling novel, it is so amazing. Read about the friendship of 2 completely different girls, how they met, and their friendship.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2005

    Deaf Child Crossing

    Megan is a deaf girl who wants a best friend to talk to. She is trying to be as independant as possible. She meets a girl named Cindy on the same street. They become inseparable. They go off to camp and Megan finds a new friend that is deaf as well. Her name is Lizzie. Megan feels she can talk to her because would understand her better than other people. Cindy on the other hand feels left out and that she is loosing her friend that she just met. She also feels left out because they are deaf and she is not. They all need to solve there problems and became friends again.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2003

    I LOVE IT!

    I am not yet finished with this book, but so far it is one of my top ten favorites! It teaches a great lesson and the events that occur in this book can easily relate to most young girls lives. The author gives amazing description and adds so much of her inspiring life. The has never yet grown borring and I have never had a reason to put the book down unless my mother is calling me for supper. I cant wait to finish this book and read it over and over again!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2003

    Wonderful Story!!!!

    This book was one of the best books that I have read in a long time. It demonstrated many things that every kid goes through in life and in showed one very important aspect of everyone's life, friendship. The two girls in this story were great and sometimes it took a fight between them for Megan to realize how important friendship is. It was great how Megan found out that Cindy was concerned only because they were best friends and that whata friends do for each other. This is a awesome book and I think everyone should read it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2002

    Great book!

    What a great insight to a wonderful character who happens to be deaf. Our daughters loved the book (they're 7 and 10) and we even caught our son who is 11 sneaking a peak into the book. We found it also great for adults as my wife and I were reading it while at the bookstore. My wife said it reminded her of the Judy Blume books she read as a child but wouldn't mind reading again as an adult! We knew Ms. Matlin as a great actress and now we're glad to see she's added author to her accomplishments. Big recommendation for this book for any parent looking for good reading for their child.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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