Kid Lit Review of “Let’s Hear It For Almigal” by Wendy Kupfer

I had high hopes for this book about a little girl with a hearing loss, especially when I saw the enchanting illustrations. But I was disappointed in the text.

Almigal starts by telling us she considers herself lucky, even though she wears hearing aids and misses a lot of sounds.

Then, she tells us she is sad and unlucky because she can’t hear everything.

She gets an operation for cochlear implants, and now she feels happy and lucky again.

Objections:

First, I found the dialogue a bit stilted. Rather than sounding like the story was told by a girl Almigal’s age, to me, it sounded more like a story told by an adult trying to speak simpler.

In addition, Almigal flips back and forth: first she says she is happy and lucky, then she says the very same circumstances make her sad and unlucky. Then we go back to the beginning. Why? Because she has had a $40,000-plus procedure for cochlear implants.

Many insurance plans do not cover this procedure, or only cover it in part. Moreover, it is not effective for all types of hearing loss. Thus this book might give the wrong impression both to those with hearing impairments and those without. And those who could benefit from cochlear implants but whose parents cannot afford it are now told how unhappy and unlucky they are.

Finally, the use of this procedure is extremely controversial, especially within the deaf community. In an article summarizing the arguments on both sides of the issue, authors Delost and Lashley of MacMurray College include the observation that:

“Doctors and parents tend to see the child as missing something and view the deafness as a disability that must be fixed to make the child “normal” or whole again. This attitude can have serious social and emotional implications (Stewart-Muirhead). A child who is told she is “broken” and needs to be fixed will forever see herself as less of a person because of her deafness.”

This problem comes to the fore in this book because of the fact that the “happiness and luckiness” of hearing with the implants is not available to all children for the reasons stated above.

On the positive side, the illustrations by Tammie Lyon are stellar. Lyon has made Almigal and her friends as cute as they can be.

Evaluation: Not recommended except for the small population of children who (a) have hearing impairments that can benefit from cochlear implants and (b) have the financial means to obtain the implants if they need and want them. Those who do meet these special circumstances and/or their family and acquaintances will undoubtedly love this story.

Rating: 1.5/5

Published by Handfinger Press, 2012

Note: There is some excellent background information on cochlear implants (along with a very cool drawing of how the device works) provided by the National Institutes of Health, here. The Cochlear Implant Education Center (CIEC) of the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center at Gallaudet University also sponsors a wonderful implant education center website, here.

***

Advertisements

About rhapsodyinbooks

We're into reading, politics, and intellectual exchanges.
This entry was posted in Book Review and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Kid Lit Review of “Let’s Hear It For Almigal” by Wendy Kupfer

  1. I’ve read much about the cochlear implant controversy. I guess this book was trying to take that on – too bad it didn’t do a better job. The illustrations are wonderful.

  2. It seems to me that the message is that a hearing impaired child will only be happy if she gets a cochlear implant. I tend to agree with you that this will be disappointing to many families whose children have a hearing impairment. I agree with Kathy that the illustrations are gorgeous.

  3. sandynawrot says:

    That is too bad because I love books that help special needs kids work through things. Great illustrations though!

  4. Jenny says:

    I get frustrated when forms of media try to provide a character that can understand someone’s plight but then it gets fixed rather than it being about how they cope while still having the issue.

  5. Heather says:

    I finally read this one (to my 5-year-old niece) and I agree with much of what you’ve said. My niece hadn’t read a book about children with hearing impairments before, so I had to explain that sometimes people are born not being able to hear and the implant is just one way that some children can overcome that, but other children don’t ever get the opportunity to hear and that is OK too. She learned a little something about deafness through the book, but I completely agree about the message the book is sending – not exactly supportive for families who can’t afford/don’t want cochlear implants.The illustrations were really good, though!

  6. boo…hiss!!! Sounds like maybe she needed to just scrap the whole book and start over again..without an agenda.

  7. bookingmama says:

    Very cute illustrations but your points are spot on. I sure hope that parents of children with hearing impairments read this one first to make sure that the message is appropriate.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s