As a general rule, unless I am under obligation to SLJ or LT, I don't write reviews of books that I don't like. The work of many committed people goes into the commercial publication of a book, and it would be the height of arrogance to assume that I am the best or only arbiter of good taste and quality. I offer my opinions here for the benefit of myself and those who may not have the time to read as extensively or expansively as I do. That being said, without referencing a particular book, I wish to offer a caveat regarding American Sign Language books for children.
Over the past few weeks, I've received numerous new ASL picture books at my branch. These recent additions depict ASL in simplistic drawings. This may make for a cute picture book, but the signs are nearly impossible to decipher and replicate with one's actual hands. Sign language is a fluid language. The required movements are very difficult to duplicate in pictures. If you must rely on printed text and illustrations (which will work fine for most of the ASL alphabet), purchase or borrow books with photographs of hands rather than artistic renderings. A better suggestion, however, if you are seeking to teach ASL, is using one of the many kid-friendly DVDs, or YouTube tutorials. Purchasing books which rely on simple, hand-rendered illustrations of complex signs is, in my opinion, a waste of money. My co-worker did use our new books to teach me something - the signs for "wrong picture." (I already knew the signs for "bad book.")
If you want to learn about deaf culture or ASL, check out the site for the National Association of the Deaf, or the National Institutes of Health site, or best of all, ask a deaf person.
Today is Nonfiction Monday.