Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

My Heart Glow: Alice Cogswell, Thomas Gallaudet, and the birth of American Sign

My Heart Glow: Alice Cogswell, Thomas Gallaudet, and the birth of American Sign

Emily Arnold McCully
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 7 to 9
Hyperion Books for Children, 2008   ISBN: 978-1423100287

When she was very little Alice Gogswell got Spotted Fever and she lost her ability to hear. She tried to play with the other children, but it was hard for her because she could not communicate. Thomas Gallaudet's family lived next door and the young man noticed how Alice sat on her own, cut off from the world much of the time. Taking pity on the little girl, he went to sit by her and he spelled the word HAT in the sand with a stick. He then showed her his hat. With his help Alice was able to make the connection between the word and the hat. Gallaudet realized that Alice wanted to learn. She wanted to be able to read books.

After a discussion with Alice's father Gallaudet became Alice's teacher. Alice loved their lessons, for she felt as if they "pulled her from a kind of tomb." Even though they made a little progress, Gallaudet was frustrated. There had to be better method for teaching the deaf. Alice's father knew that there were schools for the deaf in England and Europe. America needed its own school and he asked Gallaudet to go to Europe to learn how these schools taught their deaf students. Though this was not something that Gallaudet had planned on doing, Alice's plight so moved him that he decided to make the journey "for her sake."

In this true story about Thomas Gallaudet and his inspiration, Alice Cogswell, Emily Arnold McCully shows her readers what it was like to be deaf and living in a world where there was no sign language. She helps her readers to appreciate how hard it was to be Alice, and how much she wanted someone to help her. With poignancy and numerous quotes from Alice Cogswell's letters, Emily Arnold McCully tells a compelling and very moving story.