Thursday, July 26, 2012

Let's Hear it for Almigal!

I was recently given the opportunity to review the book Let's Hear It For Almigal which is a recent release from author Wendy Kupfer and illustrated by Tammie Lyon.   This book is a children's hardcover book and is so close to my heart.  Not because I know the author or illustrator but because it is about a little girl who has a hearing loss.  I, too, have a hearing loss.

Not everyone is privy to that information about me.  Only my closest friends and colleagues.  I have always had a hearing loss - I was treated with tubes in my ears when I was in kindergarten - but that didn't do anything to help my hearing.  I have what is commonly known as a "cookie bite" hearing loss which means that I can hear low tones and I can hear high frequencies but that "middle of the road" where most people speak?  Can't hear it.  Know what else?  I have hearing aides.  Yes.  Bionic ears.  And, I'm not even 40.  But, I didn't get the aides until my kids were 2 and 3.  Amazing.  If my BFF's former roommate (and now friend of mine!) wasn't an audiologist, I probably still wouldn't have them.  It took a lot of persuading to get me into these aides.

Now, I am on my second set (just got them last month!) and do not know what I would do without them.  I am still very self conscious about them because not many people are familiar with hearing loss as a disability that affects younger people.  I think the perception is of the old grandma or grandpa with hearing aides -- dead batteries, feedback, all kinds of things that can go wrong, but I really do think that most people think that only older people have hearing loss.  There are many people who have learned of my loss but still can not believe that I have it.  And the strange looks I get when they first see my aides if they were not aware of them?  As I said before, I am definitely very conscious of it but becoming less so as time goes on.  A recent conversation with Dr. Maegan helped me with that.  She doesn't think that people are looking at me funny or thinking less of me, but that they are simply intrigued by the aides -- just because they're curious.  In my heart, I know she's right but it's still feels weird for people to be checking my ears out.

My children are very familiar with my bionic ears.  As well, we used to have a deaf dog who we signed too.  Our dog, Sudz, was born deaf and was a great springboard for conversations about hearing loss.  I miss him terribly but we may soon foster another deaf Boxer pup since we're experienced in this disability in dogs.

On with the book - I loved Let's Hear It For Almigal for so many reasons.  The book was not only about what hearing loss is (for example Almigal couldn't hear her parents say "we love you" after tucking her in at night, even with her aides) but it explains, in kid terminology, what hearing aides are and what cochlear implants are as well.  It also tells how all of the kids in Almigal's class are different - one speaks a foreign language, one wears glasses, and yet another wears hearing aides just like she does.

I think these are the most important aspects of the book.  I believe that children should learn about what disabilities are out there.  I believe that their knowledge is the key to treating all kids equally.  Just because a child wears glasses or hearing aides does not mean that they're different, it just means that they need support to see or hear as well as others.  It doesn't make them any less smart, pretty or joyous.

The illustrations are beautiful as well.  Overall, the book is a winner.  I am pretty sure I'll be buying this book for presents during the upcoming holiday season. Even better?  5% of all sales go to support children with hearing loss.   

Please come back to the blog tomorrow to read a guest post by Almigal!

From the Publisher: 
Meet Almigal, a happy, spunky little girl with a big personality who feels unlucky because she can't hear everything she wants to hear. Almigal wants to hear "every single sound in the whole entire universe" - from the robins singing outside her bedroom window to the soft music during ballet class and her friend's teeny-tiny voice. But most of all, Almigal wants to hear her Mommy and Daddy whisper "We love you, Almigal!" when they tuck her into bed at night. Readers will rejoice with Almigal when a solution is found. Almigal's spirit and her cotton-candy pink cochlear implants will have everyone shouting "Let's Hear It For Almigal!" Endearing, lighthearted and informative, this book can be enjoyed by children with and without hearing loss.

Note:  I received a copy of this book from JKS Communications as well as a digital copy from in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to provide a positive review but I am pleased to do so.  No compensation was given to me for this book review. 

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