Language and Culture in Other Worlds

Sword And Verse_cover revealFor the past ten years, while pursuing my career as an American Sign Language interpreter and storyteller, I have also been quietly pursuing another dream: to become a published novelist.  A little over a week ago, that dream became a reality when my debut young adult novel, Sword and Verse, was published by HarperTeen.  Sword and Verse is the story of a land where writing is restricted to the nobility, and a slave girl who learns the language of the gods and finds the key to saving the kingdom.  Though the story does not explicitly mention signing, it is absolutely soaked in my love of language and informed by the lessons I have learned from the Deaf community.

I am excited to share with you an interview about the book conducted by Ruth Lehrer, a fellow American Sign Language interpreter and the author of the forthcoming middle grade novel Being Fishkill (Candlewick, 2017).  We decided to do the interview in American Sign Language to make it completely accessible to our friends in the Deaf community.  (Don’t worry, nonsigners – we also provided an English transcript – mostly.  There’s a bonus, untranslated question for signers only!)

I loved the thoughtful questions Ruth asked about the role of language in the book, and I loved the opportunity to share how my experiences in the Deaf community impacted the story.  I hope you will enjoy this interview as much as I did!  Watch the interview in ASL or read it in English at the Swanky Seventeens Blog.

Sword and Verse is available in hardcover, e-book, and audio.  Read the first 9 chapters for free at Epic Reads!

Woodpecker, Woodpecker: A Signing Rhyme

Woodpecker, Woodpecker: A Signing Rhyme

Direct Link: https://youtu.be/YCT3FEC-ZY4

Begin by teaching the ASL signs TREE and BIRD. Explain that in this rhyme, you will be learning about a specific kind of bird called a woodpecker, and will be using the signs to show how the woodpecker uses the tree.

Woodpecker, woodpecker, time to eat! (sign BIRD)

Woodpecker, woodpecker, fly to the tree. (sign TREE with your other hand and move the BIRD to your forearm)

Tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap! (make the bird’s beak tap quickly on your forearm, which represents the tree trunk)

Now eat up the bugs you found, just like that. (move fingers to show beak eating bugs)

Woodpecker, woodpecker, time to sleep! (sign BIRD)

Woodpecker, woodpecker, fly to the tree. (sign TREE with your other hand and move the BIRD to your forearm)

Tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap! (make the bird’s beak tap quickly on your forearm, which represents the tree trunk)

Now nestle in the hole you made, cozy as can be! (nestle bird in palm of hand)

MacMillan_cover_1p.inddFind lots more great storytime activities in More Storytime Magic, the latest volume in the Storytime Magic series!