Song for a Whale
Twelve-year-old Iris has never let her deafness slow her down. A whiz at fixing electronics, she's always felt at home in the world of wires and vacuum tubes. School, on the other hand, isn't quite as simple. Between her frustrating teacher Ms. Conn and her overly helpful classmate Nina, Iris can't seem to catch a break. But during science class, Iris learns about Blue 55—the loneliest whale in the world. Saddened by the animal's inability to speak to other whales, Iris uses her tech skills to come up with a plan communicate with Blue 55. One small problem: the whale is swimming off the coast of Alaska, nearly 3,000 miles from her Texas home. But, nothing stops Iris, and with her Deaf grandmother by her side, she sets out on a road trip to meet the whale and make sure he's finally heard.

Song for a Whale Details

TitleSong for a Whale
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseFeb 5th, 2019
PublisherDelacorte
Rating
GenreChildrens, Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary, Fiction, Animals

Song for a Whale Review

  • Carole (Carole's Random Life in Books)
    January 1, 1970
    This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.I liked this book quite a lot. I don't read middle-grade books very often but I think that may be something that I really need to change. I was drawn to this book as soon as I saw it and while that may due in part to the gorgeous cover, it was mostly the premise of the story that grabbed my attention. Every time I picked up this book, I quickly was lost in Iris's world. I really had a great time with this book.Iris is a twelve-year-o This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.I liked this book quite a lot. I don't read middle-grade books very often but I think that may be something that I really need to change. I was drawn to this book as soon as I saw it and while that may due in part to the gorgeous cover, it was mostly the premise of the story that grabbed my attention. Every time I picked up this book, I quickly was lost in Iris's world. I really had a great time with this book.Iris is a twelve-year-old girl who happens to be deaf. She goes to a regular school where she is the only deaf person with the assistance of her sign language interpreter. It took about all of five minutes for my heart to go out to Iris as she explained what it was like to live in a world where nobody understands you. She has no friends at school and keeps being paired up with a classmate who claims to know sign language but whose hand motions make no sense to Iris at all. She feels very alone.Iris's attention is grabbed by a whale that she learns about in school that sings at a different frequency than the other whales and therefore can't communicate with them. Iris is a whiz at repairing old radios outside of school and she uses that knowledge to help find a way to communicate with that special whale named Blue 55. Blue 55 lives alone in the ocean with no one to talk to and Iris can relate much better than most people.I fell in love with Iris almost immediately. I think that the author did a fabulous job of letting the reader really understand how isolated she felt. Iris is a very intelligent and determined girl and I liked the way she worked through the puzzle of helping the whale. I really enjoyed taking this journey with Iris and was pleased to see the progression of her relationships with her family in addition to her quest to save the whale. I would recommend this book to others. I think that this was a wonderfully written story about a little girl and a giant whale that I won't forget anytime soon. I look forward to reading more of Lynne Kelly's work in the future.I received a review copy of this book from Delacorte Press.Initial ThoughtsI really liked this book. I thought that the descriptions of Iris and her life at school were incredibly well done. My heart hurt for her because I felt how alone she thought she was. I thought that the whale's story was just as interesting and Grandma was great. All in all, this was just a very well done story.
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  • Lisa Vegan
    January 1, 1970
    4-1/2 stars In most ways I loved this book but I couldn’t quite give it 5 stars because of the point of view of the whale/other whales too. I couldn’t quite suspend disbelief and all the way through, once I hit page 76, I was eager to read the author’s notes at the end. While they were excellent, informative and interesting, I still couldn’t quite accept one aspect of the story, the fictional whale parts, even though I sort of adored that part of the story too. It’s just that the rest was such a 4-1/2 stars In most ways I loved this book but I couldn’t quite give it 5 stars because of the point of view of the whale/other whales too. I couldn’t quite suspend disbelief and all the way through, once I hit page 76, I was eager to read the author’s notes at the end. While they were excellent, informative and interesting, I still couldn’t quite accept one aspect of the story, the fictional whale parts, even though I sort of adored that part of the story too. It’s just that the rest was such amazingly good realistic fiction and I found the unrealistic portions kind of jarring, however moving and fun. The writing is lovely. The illustrations are lovely. I loved the main character and story’s narrator, Iris. I also especially enjoyed her grandmother; I loved how she responded. What a hoot she was. This is a great granddaughter-grandmother relationship! I also enjoyed so many other characters too, including Bennie & Sura, Iris’s mother, father, and brother, Wendell and his family, and some of Iris’s teachers and classmates. The family and friend and school relationships were portrayed well. This book has so much going for it. There is ample humor throughout and I thoroughly enjoyed it. But I felt sad a lot of the time I was reading it. The book is about communication and the lack of it, and about deep and cutting loneliness. I felt sad for the whale and then felt even sadder when I realized that Iris isn’t even as fluent in ASL and she could be, though I correctly knew what that was going. There are interesting inclusions about Deaf culture. There is a lot of suspense that was both entertaining and excruciating. I love how Iris is skilled in electronics, radios and other devices too. I love the whales. I love the Alaska cruise portions – the only cruise I’ve taken as an adult was to Alaska in 1983 so it was fun to “be back there” with some common experiences. I’m happy for Iris and I guess I’m supposed to feel happy for the whale too, but I felt only partial solace.I did kind of love this book but it’s 4-1/2 not 5 stars for me, rounded down despite the author’s explanation. This would have probably been a favorite 5 star book for me at ages 9-12, and that’s the target audience for this book. I think what bothered me now might not have bothered me back then. The author’s notes at the end were wonderful and (in my opinion) needed inclusions. I’ve always loved whales and it pains me that I couldn’t quite accept portions of the story. As I read I wasn’t quite sure about how to take the whales’ voices, thoughts, feelings, and that kind of took me out of the story, just a bit. I couldn’t wait to read the author’s notes but I didn’t want spoilers so I waited until I’d finished the book. Perhaps I should have read everything in the back when I got to page 76 of the hardcover edition. I don’t think the story would have been spoiled for me but I didn’t know that. I wanted to know more about whales and how realistic/unrealistic things were, what was fantasy that either worked or not.I did really, really like this book and I will definitely read other books by this author.
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  • Misty
    January 1, 1970
    I feel like I've been talking a lot lately about craving middle grade, and how good and underappreciated middle grade is. I came across a thread on Twitter a few days ago about why people like YA — and making a distinction between adult and YA — because it generally deals with serious issues with sense of hope. I think this is even more true of middle grade stories, and while some may take a saccharine route, many, if not most, strip issues back to an unltimately honest core without sacrificing I feel like I've been talking a lot lately about craving middle grade, and how good and underappreciated middle grade is. I came across a thread on Twitter a few days ago about why people like YA — and making a distinction between adult and YA — because it generally deals with serious issues with sense of hope. I think this is even more true of middle grade stories, and while some may take a saccharine route, many, if not most, strip issues back to an unltimately honest core without sacrificing hope, which is no easy feat. Lynne Kelly's Song for a Whale is a good example of that.Song for a Whale hits a lot of right notes*, succinctly capturing the frustrations and beauties of Iris' world, layered with a touch of adventure and coming of age, and built on the bones of a heartfelt family story. Iris is a dynamic protagonist, realistically flawed and lovely; she's got a thread of irritation and anger in her, an understandable chip on her shoulder, without ever falling into any kind of Angry Disabled Person™ trope. She's got a rich well of passions and skills that flesh her out, without falling into any kind of Magically Perfect Disabled Person™ trope. She's well executed and realistic, and it makes her easy to root for; she's deaf, but that's not all she is.Iris also makes a great 'in' to the stories contained within the book — the story of different deaf people operating in different ways within a hearing world, the story of a whale who wants to be heard and known, the story of a family grieving and a woman wanting to live again, stories of science and technology and friendship and exploration. Iris' natural curiosity and spirit provide a good window into these tangled bits of people's lives in a really organic way, with Iris always remaining the central focus, but not the lone focus.Readers will find a story of growth and connection that is thoroughly engaging and easily readable. Song for a Whale succeeds in letting in readers who may not be familiar with anyone deaf or hearing-impaired, without ever using deafness as a gimmick or condescending to the audience. The book as a whole is a good example of why middle grade books can be so enduring in our reading lives, and make such good tools for developing empathy and curiosity.*Ha! This is a bit funny considering the subject of the book is a whale who can't hit the right notes. I swear I didn't plan this as some sort of godawful punnish thing, but here we are.
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  • Jessica
    January 1, 1970
    I've written, then deleted, at least four different versions of this review so far. Sometimes you pick up a story and it's so poignant, so important, that it's really hard to write anything resembling a coherent review. That's this book right here. Lynne Kelly has created something magical with Iris' story. It's not just the fact that she's a character who represents the Deaf community. It's not just the sweet way that she ties her passion for radios into communicating with someone who is just a I've written, then deleted, at least four different versions of this review so far. Sometimes you pick up a story and it's so poignant, so important, that it's really hard to write anything resembling a coherent review. That's this book right here. Lynne Kelly has created something magical with Iris' story. It's not just the fact that she's a character who represents the Deaf community. It's not just the sweet way that she ties her passion for radios into communicating with someone who is just as lost as she is, in a sea of others. What makes this book special is how simply it shows how important connections are. To others, to yourself, to the world. I teared up while reading this book and, trust me, you're probably going to as well.I wanted to give love, first and foremost, to Iris as a protagonist. You can absolutely tell that Kelly did her research, because Iris is precisely what readers from the Deaf community would be looking for in a character. Her inability to hear doesn't define her, but it does kind of set her apart in the world that she is attempting to navigate as a young person. She does a lot of growing from the start of the book, but my favorite part was watching her learn that she wasn't the only one who felt that way. I won't spoil, but there's a lot in this book about accepting others and, especially, appreciating their efforts to learn.The scientific portion of this story, or the portion that had to do with the ever amazing Blue 55, was also beautifully executed. Learning about whale songs right alongside Iris made me smile. Kelly peppers in things like whale spout shapes, and fluke shapes, all the while making the learning feel like a normal part of the story. Plus, Iris' passion for all of this is infectious. I was rooting for her to communicate with Blue 55 right from the start, and you couldn't have pulled this book away from me if you tried.I could gush on and on about the familial relationships in this book, or the way that it deals so perfectly with the loss of a loved one, but it would take many more paragraphs than you'd want to read. The fact of the matter is that this is both a gorgeous and important story. I thought the ending was a little bit out there but I had to remind myself that my middle grade self would have LOVED it. It's sweet, and Iris definitely deserved a happily ever after.Read this! Put it into the hands of all the budding readers that you know. They're going to love Song For A Whale, and so are you.
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  • Nicole Hewitt
    January 1, 1970
    This review and many more can be found on my blog: Feed Your Fiction AddictionThis is one of those books that takes you into the heart and mind of a character whose experiences you might not be able to completely relate to—and you come out all the richer for it in the end.The story focuses on Iris, a Deaf girl who struggles to communicate with many of the people around her and to find her place in a world that doesn’t seem to know how to define her. When she learns of a whale with a similar issu This review and many more can be found on my blog: Feed Your Fiction AddictionThis is one of those books that takes you into the heart and mind of a character whose experiences you might not be able to completely relate to—and you come out all the richer for it in the end.The story focuses on Iris, a Deaf girl who struggles to communicate with many of the people around her and to find her place in a world that doesn’t seem to know how to define her. When she learns of a whale with a similar issue, Blue 55, who can’t communicate with other whales, she makes it her mission in life to let him know there’s someone out there who understands him. I connected to Iris right away, even when I didn’t always love her actions and responses (she treats a well-meaning but overenthusiastic and somewhat boorish hearing classmate pretty poorly–an issue I wish had been resolved a bit better in the book). Her friendship with the (hearing) girl that she meets on her trip to Alaska is wonderful and helps give Iris a bit of perspective well–it was one of my favorite relationships in the book. And I was actually surprised at how much science was woven into this story–I learned quite a bit about whales, sound, and oceanography! One negative: Iris and her grandmother lie to Iris’s parents when they set off on their journey and leave them worrying about what might be happening. I could understand this for child, but the grandmother’s actions seemed wholly irresponsible to me and there aren’t any real consequences for that or even much discussion about it, which felt strange (maybe we’re supposed to assume those conversations took place outside of Iris’s hearing). But this felt like a relatively minor detail compared to all the wonderful aspects of the book, so I didn’t dwell on that issue for long.While I can’t speak directly to the Deaf representation in the book (I do have a Deaf uncle who taught me aspects of the culture, but I’m by no means an expert), it’s obvious that the author’s connection to the Deaf community is deep and that she has an understanding of what deafness in a hearing world can be like. (Obviously, there are many different Deaf experiences, and this is just an illustration of one possible experience, but it seems authentic, at least to me–own voices reviews would be a great place to look for more guidance on that.)Overall, I highly recommend this one!!***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
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  • Lynn Plourde
    January 1, 1970
    Brilliant! I adored SONG FOR A WHALE--so well written, multi-layered story, three-dimensional characters. The deaf parts of the book were woven seamlessly with the whale parts. It was a gotta-stay-up-til-2:00 am-to finish-it-book. Having worked as a speech therapist with a class of deaf students, the author's knowledge and experience with deaf children and sign language and hertz (frequency of sounds) rings true and will be educational to readers (but in a "story" way, not in a "preachy/teachy" Brilliant! I adored SONG FOR A WHALE--so well written, multi-layered story, three-dimensional characters. The deaf parts of the book were woven seamlessly with the whale parts. It was a gotta-stay-up-til-2:00 am-to finish-it-book. Having worked as a speech therapist with a class of deaf students, the author's knowledge and experience with deaf children and sign language and hertz (frequency of sounds) rings true and will be educational to readers (but in a "story" way, not in a "preachy/teachy" way). The author note is fascinating too--I loved learning how the fictional whale Blue 55 is different from the real whale 52 Blue. Still, I am giving this book 4 1/2 stars for it's one flaw...(view spoiler)[ In my eyes, this book was perfect except for the climax. The climax, when Iris swims with Blue 55, was a bridge too far in believability for me. I would have easily believed Iris "connecting" with Blue 55 from the jetty where she stood, but not diving into the water and touching the whale. (hide spoiler)] Still, overall, bravo, bravo!
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  • USOM
    January 1, 1970
    Song for a Whale is an adorable middle grade about Iris, a deaf girl, her family, and a whale. The author's experience as a sign language interpreter lends authenticity to the narrative. I can't speak to the deaf representation in the book, but Iris struggles not only with her dad who doesn't know sign language well, a classmate who thinks they can sign, and her feelings of isolation. Even though Iris has her best friend, a grandmother, and her ability to fix radios, she still feels isolated in Song for a Whale is an adorable middle grade about Iris, a deaf girl, her family, and a whale. The author's experience as a sign language interpreter lends authenticity to the narrative. I can't speak to the deaf representation in the book, but Iris struggles not only with her dad who doesn't know sign language well, a classmate who thinks they can sign, and her feelings of isolation. Even though Iris has her best friend, a grandmother, and her ability to fix radios, she still feels isolated in many ways. Her passion for Blue 55, in many ways, mirrors her own struggle for being heard, and feelings of loneliness.full review:https://utopia-state-of-mind.com/revi...
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  • Vanessa (splitreads)
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoyed the characters a lot - they have depth and we see sweet moments. I think my main issue is that I found it hard to suspend disbelief that this could really happen. This is a realistic story with a bit of a surreal element (including the POV of a whale that feels). I liked the science in this story (acoustic biology, hertz, fixing radios) - Iris' hobbies were different and interesting. I also liked learning more about Deaf culture; the author is an interpreter for deaf children in school I enjoyed the characters a lot - they have depth and we see sweet moments. I think my main issue is that I found it hard to suspend disbelief that this could really happen. This is a realistic story with a bit of a surreal element (including the POV of a whale that feels). I liked the science in this story (acoustic biology, hertz, fixing radios) - Iris' hobbies were different and interesting. I also liked learning more about Deaf culture; the author is an interpreter for deaf children in schools.
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  • Nicole Wagner
    January 1, 1970
    I would have loved this book so deeply at eleven or twelve years old. This book is so good, though, in that I loved it and learned a lot from it at thirty three years old.Inclusion is an amazing thing. When done richly and with context and without tokenizing, it can bring together entire communities. This book is primarily about Deaf people, but it's so incredibly relatable. Have you ever missed someone? Been lonely? Been entranced by a story unexpectedly at a significant time in your life? Plus I would have loved this book so deeply at eleven or twelve years old. This book is so good, though, in that I loved it and learned a lot from it at thirty three years old.Inclusion is an amazing thing. When done richly and with context and without tokenizing, it can bring together entire communities. This book is primarily about Deaf people, but it's so incredibly relatable. Have you ever missed someone? Been lonely? Been entranced by a story unexpectedly at a significant time in your life? Plus, the scenery was its own character. Excellently and tenderly done.
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  • Sara Grochowski
    January 1, 1970
    Lynne Kelly’s SONG FOR A WHALE is a stunning, emotionally resonant look inside the world of 12-year old Iris, a determined girl whose deafness often leaves her feeling alone and frustrated. Iris’s interactions with her hearing family, friends, and classmates are poignant and truthfully drawn, but it’s her soul connection with Blue 55, a whale that sings at a unique 55-hertz frequency, leaving him unintelligible to his fellow whales, that shines especially bright. Kelly’s portrayal of deaf cultur Lynne Kelly’s SONG FOR A WHALE is a stunning, emotionally resonant look inside the world of 12-year old Iris, a determined girl whose deafness often leaves her feeling alone and frustrated. Iris’s interactions with her hearing family, friends, and classmates are poignant and truthfully drawn, but it’s her soul connection with Blue 55, a whale that sings at a unique 55-hertz frequency, leaving him unintelligible to his fellow whales, that shines especially bright. Kelly’s portrayal of deaf culture and relationships within the deaf community are deeply striking. As an outside observer of the deaf community, Kelly’s depiction of Iris’s emotional and physical experiences in a world that caters to hearing individuals has a made a lasting impact, changing the way I look at the world and leaving me more aware of my own privilege. Iris and Blue 55 have made a mark on my heart that will linger for years to come.
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  • Ms. Yingling
    January 1, 1970
    E ARC provided by Edelweiss PlusWhile Iris and one set of her grandparents are Deaf, her parents are not, and her father doesn't even make the effort to learn sign language. Iris has an interest in repairing older radios, and this gives her a nice past time and source of income. School is a struggle, and it's hard to deal with some of her fellow classmates, especially one who pretends to know ASL but just annoys Iris with her unsuccessful and self-serving attempts. When Iris' science class learn E ARC provided by Edelweiss PlusWhile Iris and one set of her grandparents are Deaf, her parents are not, and her father doesn't even make the effort to learn sign language. Iris has an interest in repairing older radios, and this gives her a nice past time and source of income. School is a struggle, and it's hard to deal with some of her fellow classmates, especially one who pretends to know ASL but just annoys Iris with her unsuccessful and self-serving attempts. When Iris' science class learns about Blue 55, a whale who communicates on a frequency that no other whales do, and so leads a lonely existence, she is drawn to his story and tries to help. She consults with the music teacher and creates a sound track on the frequency the whale uses, and contacts a research station in Alaska to see if they can use it. When the scientists there invite her to come by if she is ever in the area, Iris decides she really needs to go to help out. Her parents, wisely, say no, so she approaches her grandmother. Her grandmother is not doing well after the passing of her spouse, and decides a cruise to Alaska is just what she needs. The two sneak off on their adventure, and while Iris is not able to help Blue 55, she is able to put some things in her life into perspective and to speak up for herself.Strengths: The author's background working with Deaf students is apparent, and the details about having an interpreter at school, dealing with classmates, and of feeling the vibrations through the radios are all good details for hearing students to have. The science connection is interesting, and the relationship with the grandmother is charming. The father's difficulty in connecting with Iris adds a layer of realistic depth.Weaknesses: There have been several Deaf students at my school, and none of them were ever treated this badly. I had one girl with an interpreter and a cochlear implant who was even a library helper for several quarters-- we just made sure students knew to make sure she could see their face and to talk clearly but normally when they checked out books so that she could understand them, and she never seemed as isolated and unhappy as Iris. Doesn't make for as good a story, but makes me feel good about my students!What I really think: There should be more books than Ferris' Of Sound Mind and Gino's You Don't Know Everything, Jilly P!, so I am really glad to see this one.
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  • Carina Olsen
    January 1, 1970
    When I first heard about this one I knew I had to read it. Because that cover is all kinds of stunning. And the story seemed amazing too. I do not think I have ever read a book about a deaf girl, and I was so excited to finally get to do that. Parts of this book were all kinds of awesome. But sadly, almost all of the book was bad. Oh.And because of that I'm giving this book two stars. Which makes me so sad, but it has to be done. I had so many issues with this one. Yet I also enjoyed some of it When I first heard about this one I knew I had to read it. Because that cover is all kinds of stunning. And the story seemed amazing too. I do not think I have ever read a book about a deaf girl, and I was so excited to finally get to do that. Parts of this book were all kinds of awesome. But sadly, almost all of the book was bad. Oh.And because of that I'm giving this book two stars. Which makes me so sad, but it has to be done. I had so many issues with this one. Yet I also enjoyed some of it a whole lot. I have so much to share about it. First, a huge thank you to the publisher for letting me take part in the blog tour and for sending me the lovely book.While my blog tour in late January was supposed to be a review and a giveaway, I do not feel okay with sharing a two star review for a blog tour. Will be posting my review today, and will hopefully be sharing a spotlight and giveaway of an ARC post in January. I truly wish I could say that I loved this book. As I really wanted to. It seemed incredible. And looks truly gorgeous. But it was sadly filled with issues. I will start by saying that I have no idea if any of the deaf part of the book had issues as well, as I do not know anyone that is deaf. I will say that I found all of it to be written really well. I loved that the main girl was deaf. I loved reading about how she lived every day as a deaf person. Was so very interesting. And she was all kinds of awesome because of that. Love.But sadly that did not save this book. Because even though the deaf parts were incredible, the rest of the writing was so very much not. I could not connect to anything in this book. It also felt so rushed. And a bit awkward at times. Especially so because Iris is said to be twelve years old, but yet she felt years younger than that. Which was a bit depressing. I also did not like this girl. Because of her personality. She treated a girl in her class so very badly. And not once was that owned up to. It bothered me so much, at all times.Sure, it is written in a way that makes it seem like the girl in her class was an idiot, and doing everything wrong. But she was not. She was a girl who could hear. And who tried so hard to learn sign language so that she could talk to Iris too. But Iris did nothing to help her with this. All she did was turn away from her and ignore her and get angry with her for not being able to sign anything right. I felt like Iris should have helped her. Should have tried to be her friend, like this girl was trying so so very hard to be hers. Hmph.Which means that sadly I did not like Iris very much at all. I tried to love her, I truly did. But yeah. No. She treated this girl badly in the beginning of the book. And then near the end she reads something about her, and she laughs and laughs at her, and it made me dislike Iris more and more. Was not good. Sure, there were parts of Iris that I liked. Getting to know how she talked with sign language was awesome. So loved her friendship with this adorable boy that was deaf as well. It was pretty adorable. But was sadly too little.This book is about Iris being unhappy in her school. Since she is the only one there that is deaf. And her grandparents are deaf too, but her grandpa is dead and her grandma lives at a home for old people. Her mom can sign language too, and her brother as well. Her father was not good at it. And that was written badly too, because it was all kinds of painful to read about, and it really shouldn't have been written that way, at least, I do not think it should have. Parts of Iris's life was hard to read, which was bad and good.While at school, she learns about a whale. Blue 55. He has a different song than every other whale in the ocean, and so no one can understand him. He is all alone and has no one around him. This is somewhat a true story, and I did like that a whole lot. It was interesting to read about the whales and such. But also a little weird. There are even really small pages with the whale point of view. Yeah. That was odd. And the way Iris reacted to learning about the whale. Yeah. I cannot support that. Not at all. Which is depressing.I did love that Iris felt strongly about this whale. That she wanted to help him connect with others. Liked that she decided to make a song for him that he could hear, that no other whale could sing for him. But what I did not like is that she got obsessed with this whale right away and decided that she had to go to Alaska to find him, to see him. Did not like how she treated her family because of this. And then she runs away. With her grandmother. On a cruise ship, for weeks, without telling her family first. Uhm. What even.I cannot help but say that I found this book to be a bit problematic. If that is the right word. It might not be, but I'm not sure how else to describe it. This book makes it feel it was okay that twelve year old deaf Iris ran away with her old and deaf grandmother, who was grieving for her dead husband, and was in a home because they feared she could not take care of herself. Yeah. And they run away together. That was not safe. And it was not okay. Sure, Iris thinks about her family a couple of times while being away. Hahaha.That was not okay either. She is on a cruise for Alaska, far away from her family, without talking to them or telling them where she is going or why. Her grandma is keeping them updated, but that was still not an okay thing to do. Yet this book tells it in a way that it felt okay, that it was the right thing for Iris to do. That it was the only thing she could have done, the thing she was supposed to do. I do not support that at all. It was reckless and dangerous. Gosh, my review is much longer than I had planned for it to be. Sorry, haha.But can't stop writing about this book. I must share all my thoughts. Some spoilers. There is even a scene in the book where Iris jumps into cold water and swims toward a huge whale. Looking it in the eyes. And swimming around it. Not once is it mentioned that this is dangerous. And it was. Incredibly so. And I'm not sure why this book is making it seem like all of this was okay. Hmm. Can't help but feel that this book was not all that safe. Of course, it is highly possible that I am the only one to feel this way, that others will not.Which is also okay. I'm sorry to say that Song for a Whale was not a book for me at all. I wanted to love it, so so badly, but I could not. I found parts of it to be very good, and I wanted to know more. But most parts where not good at all. And I may have shared way too much in my review. But I just could not stop writing and I do not regret it. So curious to know what others will think of this book. Do let me know if you read it. Huge thank you to Random House Kids for sending me a free ARC copy of this book to read and review.---This review was first posted on my blog, Carina's Books, here: https://carinabooks.blogspot.com/2018...
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  • Kimberly Sabatini
    January 1, 1970
    Even though the cover of this book is so gorgeous it's hard to stop staring at it, once you begin reading you can't help but fall in love with this book. I adore stories where every thread in the book supports the character arc in a way that is smooth and feels just right--that is what you get with SONG FOR A WHALE. Everything has a purpose and it all unrolls at the perfect time to make your heart soar.Iris is such a spunky yet vulnerable character, you can't help but root for her. Her Grandmoth Even though the cover of this book is so gorgeous it's hard to stop staring at it, once you begin reading you can't help but fall in love with this book. I adore stories where every thread in the book supports the character arc in a way that is smooth and feels just right--that is what you get with SONG FOR A WHALE. Everything has a purpose and it all unrolls at the perfect time to make your heart soar.Iris is such a spunky yet vulnerable character, you can't help but root for her. Her Grandmother is a blast. And every other character in the story was well rounded, full of strengths and flaws to make them relatable. Each one captured my heart and attention as I swam through the pages. I loved them all. And learning more about the deaf community is fascinating. And then there is that wonderful whale, Blue 55. Haven't we all had a time where we were wandering through the world and weren't sure that no one else was hearing us? This whale will touch your heart and you will be rooting for both him and Iris the whole way through. After swimming through this book, it is not a stretch to believe that Kelly's latest book will be in the hands of young readers for a very long time. As a fan of her debut, CHAINS, I can't wait to see what she writes next.
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  • Dana
    January 1, 1970
    Iris is a twelve-year-old deaf girl who goes to a regular school. She has a hard time feeling like she belongs and has a voice of her own when everyone else can’t understand her sign language and she can’t hear what people are saying. So, when she learns about Blue 55, a whale that sings at a different frequency than other whales, she feels a connection. Nobody understands him, either, and he must feel so alone. So, she sets out to create a song for him that he might understand, or at least will Iris is a twelve-year-old deaf girl who goes to a regular school. She has a hard time feeling like she belongs and has a voice of her own when everyone else can’t understand her sign language and she can’t hear what people are saying. So, when she learns about Blue 55, a whale that sings at a different frequency than other whales, she feels a connection. Nobody understands him, either, and he must feel so alone. So, she sets out to create a song for him that he might understand, or at least will help show that someone hears him and maybe he won’t feel so alone. When I started this book, I was enjoying it, but not quite getting pulled in yet. But I decided to keep reading a bit more, and I’m so glad I did! The similarities of what Iris and the whale were going through, and the gentle way in which Iris learns about herself on her journey to find her whale, touched me. This was such a fantastic book! I enjoyed learning about some of the deaf culture and about whales. I will definitely be recommending this book to fellow readers.
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  • Jean Huber
    January 1, 1970
    Looking for a book that will inspire you to go out and change the world, make a difference, make tiny changes? Then you have to pick up the new middle grade book by @lynnekkelly Song For A Whale💙 🐋💙 Thank you so much to @delacortepress for sending me this free Advanced Readers Copy to review! If I could give this book more than five stars I would!.The story follows twelve year old Iris who is absolutely brilliant when it comes to science and electronics. In her free time she repairs and restores Looking for a book that will inspire you to go out and change the world, make a difference, make tiny changes? Then you have to pick up the new middle grade book by @lynnekkelly Song For A Whale💙 🐋💙 Thank you so much to @delacortepress for sending me this free Advanced Readers Copy to review! If I could give this book more than five stars I would!.The story follows twelve year old Iris who is absolutely brilliant when it comes to science and electronics. In her free time she repairs and restores antique radios and sells them to a local shop. Iris feels isolated and alone though because unlike the other students at her school Iris is deaf. One day in school she learns about a whale named Blue 55 who is swimming through the ocean alone unable to communicate with other whales. Iris instantly feels a connection to this whale who feels like nobody hears him, and sets out to create a way to help him. What follows is an adventure full of innovation, risk taking, and healing..For my full thoughts and review head over to my IGTV channel to watch my video review on Song For A Whale 🐳 @bookmama789
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  • Missy
    January 1, 1970
    "What was a whale without a pod? What was a whale without a whale song?" Who are we without our families, our communities, the people we connect to? The story of Iris, a 12-year-old who is deaf, and Blue 55, an unusual whale with a song that is unintelligible to other whales, focuses on that topic. And does so with empathy and sadness and humor and joy. Iris is a complex character. She loves electronics, especially fixing broken old radios* -- in other words, restoring their voices. She struggle "What was a whale without a pod? What was a whale without a whale song?" Who are we without our families, our communities, the people we connect to? The story of Iris, a 12-year-old who is deaf, and Blue 55, an unusual whale with a song that is unintelligible to other whales, focuses on that topic. And does so with empathy and sadness and humor and joy. Iris is a complex character. She loves electronics, especially fixing broken old radios* -- in other words, restoring their voices. She struggles with communicating with her parents -- as any 12-year-old would, but especially as a deaf child would with a father who had not embraced sign language, Iris' language. She gets angry with people who think they know what is best for her, even those with presumably good intentions. In other words, she's human. When Iris learns that Blue 55 cannot communicate due to a difference in the sound waves -- vibrations, like those made by her radios -- in his whale song, she sets out on a very improbable and nearly impossible mission to communicate with this lonely whale. I mention improbable because there are parts of this book that really do require a suspension of disbelief. But this is fiction. Miracles, coincidences, and serendipity happen in real life, and can happen even more wildly in fiction. I fell in love with Iris, even in her prickly moments. And with Blue 55, a whale without a pod. And I think kids will, too.*Radios? A girl who is deaf fixes old radios? How does that work? Sound makes vibrations. Especially in big old wooden radios. Iris feels the vibrations to determine if the radio is making sound and even what kinds of sound (static, music, etc.)
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  • Czechgirl
    January 1, 1970
    I liked this book. I rooted for Iris. I liked the loneliness similarity that Iris and Blue 55 had.
  • Olivia Farr
    January 1, 1970
    See my full review here: http://www.yabookscentral.com/kidsfic...SONG FOR A WHALE is a heart-warming middle grade story about being different and finding your place. Iris is deaf, and she goes to a public school where she is the only one who speaks American Sign Language (ASL). Well, another girl checked out a book about sign language and thinks she knows, but what she signs doesn’t make sense. Iris ends up feeling very isolated in school, unable to communicate with other students directly and h See my full review here: http://www.yabookscentral.com/kidsfic...SONG FOR A WHALE is a heart-warming middle grade story about being different and finding your place. Iris is deaf, and she goes to a public school where she is the only one who speaks American Sign Language (ASL). Well, another girl checked out a book about sign language and thinks she knows, but what she signs doesn’t make sense. Iris ends up feeling very isolated in school, unable to communicate with other students directly and having teachers who don’t understand her. At home, her mother and brother speak ASL, but her father doesn’t quite speak it well enough. Her grandparents are also deaf and sign, but her grandfather recently died, and her grandmother has been harder to reach.When Iris sees a video at school about Blue 55, a whale whose song can’t be heard by other whales and thus is alone, she finds a deep connection. Iris sets out to understand more about Blue 55 and to develop a way to connect with him through developing a whale song that Blue 55 can understand. In many ways, she feels his situation deeply as her own. When she records a song for Blue 55, she sends it to the team who is trying unsuccessfully to tag him, suggesting that they play it for him to see if it will encourage him to stay and allow them to tag him. When the team agrees and invites her to stop by and tour their facilities if she ever happens to be in Alaska, Iris begins planning a trip, wanting to be there when they play her song to Blue 55. However, her parents won’t allow her to go. When she brings it up to her grandmother, she begins to scheme with her. The trip also has particular meaning to her grandmother who had been planning an Alaskan cruise with Iris’s grandfather before he died.What I loved: This book captures the feeling of being different and not belonging so beautifully, primarily through Iris but also in the sections told by Blue 55. With lyrical and imaginative prose, we are completely immersed in Iris’s life. The descriptions of her passions and the people around her leap off the page. Her deafness is one of many qualities Iris possesses and is portrayed so fully that readers can understand her world. This is an excellent book for people of many ages, with so many lessons for all of us and numerous themes that can spark important discussions for readers. Furthermore, the connections Iris has with her grandmother and brother- and those with her parents and classmates- help flesh out a heart-warming and full picture. Final verdict: This is, ultimately, a beautiful story of loneliness and making unexpected connections that is full of heart. I highly recommend for readers of all ages looking for a gorgeous story of heartfelt journeys. Middle grade readers will definitely want to pick this one up!
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  • Pamela Kramer
    January 1, 1970
    “Song for a Whale” by Lynne Kelly follows her first book, the award-winning novel “Chained.” Kelly’s writing is as beautiful as ever, and the story just as touching — and perhaps more accessible to young readers as the setting is in the United States instead of India. It’s a story about Iris, who is deaf, and the connection she feels for a whale named Blue 55, who is unable to communicate with other whales.The loneliness both Iris and Blue 55 feel is deftly and imaginatively described by Kelly i “Song for a Whale” by Lynne Kelly follows her first book, the award-winning novel “Chained.” Kelly’s writing is as beautiful as ever, and the story just as touching — and perhaps more accessible to young readers as the setting is in the United States instead of India. It’s a story about Iris, who is deaf, and the connection she feels for a whale named Blue 55, who is unable to communicate with other whales.The loneliness both Iris and Blue 55 feel is deftly and imaginatively described by Kelly in alternating voices. While Blue 55’s voice appears infrequently, it’s the perfect compliment to Iris’ story about her life being the only deaf student in a school where she really has no friends. Iris’ grandfather recently died, and her grandmother is having a difficult time adjusting to being alone.Kelly creates a main character with lots of depth. There’s a lot going on in Iris’ life and there’s a lot about Iris that is making her life difficult. Her father has barely learned ASL (American Sign Language) and so it’s difficult to converse with him and really share her feelings. Her mother doesn’t want to hear about Iris’ discontent with her school. Iris is fascinated with fixing old radios, and she’s a whiz around anything electronic. She hangs out at the local junkyard looking for spare parts to radios.When Iris learns about Blue 55, she feels that they are kindred spirits. Blue 55 is alone and unable to communicate with other whales. He swims the ocean looking for companionship and is unable to express his feelings in a way other whales will understand. Not only does Iris feel compassion for Blue 55, she feels she understands him in a unique way. In fact, Iris figures out a way to make a song that Blue 55 will be able to understand. After recording it with the help of others at her school, she must figure out how to bring the recording to Blue 55, who is 3,000 miles away in Alaska, and play it to him.Not only is the story filled with adventure as Iris and her grandmother fly away to Alaska, it’s filled with thoughtful commentary on how even people who appear to have friends and family can feel lonely and isolated. The writing is lyrical, and Kelly beautifully and poetically describes those feelings when Blue 55 dives deep into the ocean because at the surface are all the whales who can’t communicate with him and who drive him away. She writes:“The depths were emptier, darker, quieter. Yet less lonely, because there was no one to answer his calls with silence.”While the book is absolutely a gem and will be greatly enjoyed by readers young and old, it’s also a book that would really benefit from being read aloud by a teacher or parent, or being read in a group so that the thoughtful, complex ideas and the social issues about being different can be fully explored.Fans of “Chained” will be thrilled with this book that’s just as emotional and gripping and perhaps even more thoughtful, poignant, and poetic.Please note: This review is based on the final book provided by the publisher for review purposes.
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  • Sionna
    January 1, 1970
    *I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.* I don't read much middle grade, but it is something I'm trying to change this year. Anyhow, I went into this novel thinking I wouldn't love it and I've have to change my expectations-- keep an open -mind for the younger crowd. Wow, I was so wrong. This book is so beautifully written and before you know it, the characters will be pulling on your heartstrings. There I was sitting in the break room at work *I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.* I don't read much middle grade, but it is something I'm trying to change this year. Anyhow, I went into this novel thinking I wouldn't love it and I've have to change my expectations-- keep an open -mind for the younger crowd. Wow, I was so wrong. This book is so beautifully written and before you know it, the characters will be pulling on your heartstrings. There I was sitting in the break room at work completely invested in this novel and realized I was having to hold back the tears. This book is an emotional ride because it is so easy to see why Iris cares about this whale so much.Iris is an inspiration. She is such a cool character for us to follow along with. She is deaf, but she also repairs old timey radios in her spare time. She's an amazing mechanic and uses her skills to try finding a way to speak with Blue 55, the whale. Oh, and there are also a few chapters told from Blue 55's POV which really hit me in the feels. I don't know what else I can gush about. I smiled, I laughed, I almost cried a few times, and I now really want to learn sign language and more about whales. I totally recommend this to everyone who likes contemporary novels and has some interest in whales. I have already recommended it to a few people at the library, so hopefully someone will pick it up soon.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    *Review is of an advanced reader copyIt's not you, Song for a Whale, it's me. There is much to like about this book. The featured character, Iris, is a headstrong, resourceful, determined kid. Readers learn a lot about electronics, whale migration, planets, and sound. Although Iris is deaf, this is never portrayed as a disability. She is, in fact, quite the MacGyver of radio repair, a quality which serves her well in her quest to connect to a lonely whale.So why only the two star rating? Try as *Review is of an advanced reader copyIt's not you, Song for a Whale, it's me. There is much to like about this book. The featured character, Iris, is a headstrong, resourceful, determined kid. Readers learn a lot about electronics, whale migration, planets, and sound. Although Iris is deaf, this is never portrayed as a disability. She is, in fact, quite the MacGyver of radio repair, a quality which serves her well in her quest to connect to a lonely whale.So why only the two star rating? Try as I might, I have never been able to muster much interest in the study of animals. I do like animals. However, for some reason I do not enjoy reading about them or watching programs on television or visiting places such as the zoo or aquarium. I much prefer to people watch. Don't know why, I've tried to cultivate a greater interest but, alas, animals fail to spark my curiosity. Therefore, I was kind of bored during some of the novel. That being said, if you are not me, first of all, consider yourself blessed, and secondly, you will most likely find Song for a Whale to your liking. It is definitely worth a read.
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  • Stormi (BMReviewsohmy)
    January 1, 1970
    Song of the Whale was a cute book about a young deaf girl who is having a hard time fitting in at her hearing school. Then, one day a teacher tells her class about Blue 55 a whale who is a hybrid and no other whale can understand his song, so he is very lonely.Iris is good with electronics and is always working on radios an she devises a plan to create a song for Blue 55.Her grandmother is missing her husband and hasn’t been the same since he died. So when Iris wants to meet Blue 55 Iris and her Song of the Whale was a cute book about a young deaf girl who is having a hard time fitting in at her hearing school. Then, one day a teacher tells her class about Blue 55 a whale who is a hybrid and no other whale can understand his song, so he is very lonely.Iris is good with electronics and is always working on radios an she devises a plan to create a song for Blue 55.Her grandmother is missing her husband and hasn’t been the same since he died. So when Iris wants to meet Blue 55 Iris and her grandmother set out on an adventure.This was a cute book and it even had some chapters in the whales POV which where really sad as the poor whale was so lonely and I felt sorry for him so I was glad Iris wanted to help him.Only thing I didn’t like was the fact that the girl and her grandmother took off without telling anyone exactly where they were headed. Other than that it was a cute contemporary for young readers.
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  • Michelle Kidwell
    January 1, 1970
    Song for a Whaleby Lynne KellyRandom House Children'sDelacorte Books for Young ReadersChildren's FictionPub Date 05 Feb 2019I am reviewing a copy of Song For A Whale through Random House Children’s and Netgalley:Iris I a twelve year old tech genius, able to do anything from fix the class computer to fixing old TVs but she’s the only deaf student in her school and shes often treated like she’s not very intelligent .Iris learns about Blue 55, a whale that is unable to communicate like other whales Song for a Whaleby Lynne KellyRandom House Children'sDelacorte Books for Young ReadersChildren's FictionPub Date 05 Feb 2019I am reviewing a copy of Song For A Whale through Random House Children’s and Netgalley:Iris I a twelve year old tech genius, able to do anything from fix the class computer to fixing old TVs but she’s the only deaf student in her school and shes often treated like she’s not very intelligent .Iris learns about Blue 55, a whale that is unable to communicate like other whales something that Iris can relate too so she invents a way to sing to him and travels with her Grandma to do just that.Will Iris be able to play her song for Blue 55? Find out in Songs For A Whale!Five out of five stars!
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  • Val
    January 1, 1970
    I'm grateful for having won this enchanting ARC in a GR giveaway from Random House. In Song for a Whale Iris, who was born Deaf, finds out about a whale that is unable to communicate with other whales. The lonely whale awakens something in Iris, and she’s determined to show him that someone in the world knows he’s there. This leads to a heartwarming adventure for everyone involved.I will never forget this book, and I'm passing it on to my granddaughter immediately. I firmly believe every middle I'm grateful for having won this enchanting ARC in a GR giveaway from Random House. In Song for a Whale Iris, who was born Deaf, finds out about a whale that is unable to communicate with other whales. The lonely whale awakens something in Iris, and she’s determined to show him that someone in the world knows he’s there. This leads to a heartwarming adventure for everyone involved.I will never forget this book, and I'm passing it on to my granddaughter immediately. I firmly believe every middle school should have a copy in their library.
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  • Susan
    January 1, 1970
    SONG FOR A WHALE tells a sweet story about a Deaf girl who's determined to communicate with an unusual whale, with whom she feels she has a lot in common. As she sets about trying to create a song that might reach Blue 55, she comes to understand her own unique abilities and the power of her own determination. While the story got a little long for me, I appreciate its messages and think they will speak to kids, especially those who feel out of place. The abundance of tech/science details in the SONG FOR A WHALE tells a sweet story about a Deaf girl who's determined to communicate with an unusual whale, with whom she feels she has a lot in common. As she sets about trying to create a song that might reach Blue 55, she comes to understand her own unique abilities and the power of her own determination. While the story got a little long for me, I appreciate its messages and think they will speak to kids, especially those who feel out of place. The abundance of tech/science details in the tale may be a little much for young readers—I got a bit bored with them—but overall, SONG FOR A WHALE is an enjoyable (if far-fetched) read. I'd give it a B-.
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  • F.T. Bradley
    January 1, 1970
    Such a great look into what it means to be Deaf--I learned so much. This book was truly food for thought, and stuck with me long after reading.The science angle gave the book extra depth, and the whale story gave it heart. I really loved Iris, the main character, and her family. There were a few moments (the horrible teacher in the beginning) that were a slight hiccup for me, but overall this is one of the best middle-grade books I've read in a while.A must read this year I would say--be ready f Such a great look into what it means to be Deaf--I learned so much. This book was truly food for thought, and stuck with me long after reading.The science angle gave the book extra depth, and the whale story gave it heart. I really loved Iris, the main character, and her family. There were a few moments (the horrible teacher in the beginning) that were a slight hiccup for me, but overall this is one of the best middle-grade books I've read in a while.A must read this year I would say--be ready for this story to stick with you long after you finish the book. A great classroom read, too.
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  • Heather Jensen
    January 1, 1970
    I fell in love with Iris and Blue 55 right from the beginning. Iris is 12 years old. She is the only deaf student in her school. Blue 55 is a Blue Whale that sings at a frequency that no other way can understand. Iris feels a connection to Blue 55 and finds a way that she feels will allow Blue 55 to finally feel he is not alone. Song for a Whale is a quest for Iris to feel connected! She shows us that even though she cannot hear, it is important to be loud about the things that are important to I fell in love with Iris and Blue 55 right from the beginning. Iris is 12 years old. She is the only deaf student in her school. Blue 55 is a Blue Whale that sings at a frequency that no other way can understand. Iris feels a connection to Blue 55 and finds a way that she feels will allow Blue 55 to finally feel he is not alone. Song for a Whale is a quest for Iris to feel connected! She shows us that even though she cannot hear, it is important to be loud about the things that are important to us. My fifth grade students are going to love Iris and her quest to be heard!
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  • gypsydreams
    January 1, 1970
    A beautiful poignant heart touching story about a young deaf girl trying to find her way in a world where she doesn't quite belong.The character was extremely relatable and I rooted for her every step of her journey to give the world's loneliest whale the song she made just for him so he would never have to alone again .Will be giving this to my book club thank you for giving me a free copy of this book for an open and honest review I adored it ! namaste :)
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  • Bethe
    January 1, 1970
    5 stars! All the feels for this book: the complex characters & relationships, the whales, Alaska, friends, grandparents, feeling alone and unheard amongst others, Blue 55’s chapters, science, author’s note. Loved that the author read her note at the end. Bummer that libraries being on the rotation might be a thing in Houston.
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  • Abby Johnson
    January 1, 1970
    This is a moving story about a Deaf girl feeling cut off from her peers at her mainstream school who hears about Blue 55, a whale (based on a real whale) who sings at a different Hertz than his fellow blue whales. Written by a longtime sign language interpreter, the story incorporates a lot about Deaf culture and ASL. Recommended for fans of contemporary middle grade fiction with spunky characters.
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