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Book Review: Through Sophie’s Eyes by Catherine Gibson, Illustrated by Robert Noreika

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Catherine Gibson has given us a very likable heroine in Sophie, a young girl who loves to dance. Sophie is deaf and cannot speak. She reads lips and communicates with sign language. Her mother also loves to dance, and encourages Sophie, who dances to the vibrations of the music coming through the floor. Instead of speaking to her brain through her ears and then being translated for the rest of her body, the music speaks directly to Sophie’s feet!

Sophie comes home from school one day flush with excitement. She has a flyer for a dance school, and asks her mom if she can join. When they go to the studio, the teacher surprises them — she understands and can communicate with sign language. But then, there’s the mean girls…

Readers will sympathize with Sophie’s plight. Who hasn’t had at least a moment when he or she was different from everyone else and made to feel odd? Lucky for Sophie she has an understanding mom and a very understanding ballet instructor.

Through Sophies Eyes is a story about empathy, following one’s dreams, and perseverance. It’s a book for all children — hearing or deaf — which delivers positive messages about the differences between people.

Finger-spelled words and the entire ASL alphabet are featured in Through Sophies Eyes, giving children an introduction to a language with which they may not be familiar, and an opportunity to learn its basics. Learning to finger spell one’s own name is fun for adults and children, and may even inspire further interest in developing sign language fluency.

Author Catherine Gibson has danced nearly all her life (she had to learn to walk first!), and is currently a dance instructor. She developed an interest in sign language and learned to sign at The American School for the Deaf in West Hartford, Connecticut. That lead to teaching dance to hearing-impaired preschoolers, through signing and body movement.

Bottom Line: Would I buy Through Sophies Eyes? Yes — it’s an inspiring story that reminds us that we may not all be the same, but that shouldn’t really matter.

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