It's such an extraordinary feeling when a reviewer reads your heart at the same time she reads your book. Thank you, Maria Russo of The New York Times for this wonderful review!
The William Hoy Story
Written by Nancy Churnin. Illustrated by Jez Tuya.
This delightful and illuminating biography recounts the extraordinary life of William Hoy, who was born in Ohio in 1865 and went deaf at age 3 after a case of meningitis. William adored baseball, practicing constantly, and he had a big, loving family who supported him when he was asked to try out for a professional team. By the time his career was over, he had revolutionized the sport by suggesting to an umpire that he make calls — balls and strikes, out and safe — understandable to him by using American Sign Language, along with saying the words. An added benefit was that fans in the stands would be able to know the calls immediately. Soon players and managers, too, took William’s idea a step further, using signs to communicate plays to each other without revealing them to the other team.
Anyone who plays or watches baseball today will experience a jolt of recognition as Churnin explains the genesis of this small but central aspect of the game. She tells William’s story patiently and clearly, with a wonderfully matter-of-fact tone about the ways a deaf person navigates life. She strikes just the right balance between reporting the hardships and discrimination he faced — an owner who tried to underpay him, fellow players who laughed at and tricked him — and emphasizing the personal grit that allowed him to persevere and overcome daunting obstacles. Tuya’s simple digital illustrations are filled with feeling and individuality, neatly conveying motion and action but also, somehow, the dignity of William’s silence.
32 pp. Albert Whitman. $16.99. (Picture book; ages 4 to 8)