Boy


Phil Cummings

Shane Devries

Scholastic

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ISBN 9781760277055

RRP $24.99

Age 3+

Date of publication May 2017

Reviewer Neville Sandon

This is a great book. I should declare my passion for his new book “Boy”. As the firstborn child of deaf parents, I can not recall any children’s book addressing “deaf-ness”. “So few of them” (but is this accurate?) so why bother? Phil Cummings is a sensitive observer of people and he bothered to write about people who surround us but we know so little of them.  Cummings has already dealt with Alzheimer’s disease in his gentle book, “Newspaper”.

You know the old adage “it takes a village to grow a child”! Here’s a delightful juvenile fiction, simply illustrated, that shows “a child can influence a village”. And this child is different!

Tastefully, we’re taken on an adventure of king and a dragon, parents and soldiers with the focus on one little boy who is very different. He can’t hear a thing.

  • What happens when a little profoundly deaf boy doesn’t hear the message that a battle is raging around the village?
  • What would a curious deaf boy do when the soldiers are riding out of the village?
  • With all the roaring, clanging, clinking and shouting going on, how would a deaf boy know?
  • How does a deaf boy know when the people are frightened?

The simplest and most obvious question asked by the deaf boy is overlooked by those who are in the midst of the hullabaloo.

A little deaf boy shows that communicating clearly, in whatever form, makes the difference. We don’t need to be embarrassed when confronted by a deaf person or child. We only have to try and we may discover a new window onto the world. Cummings has come very close to achieving this in his gorgeous narrative, supported by Shane Devries’ elegantly simple artwork. Neither the text nor the artwork is simplistic but rather tackles an ignored and silent issue we face here in Australia.

A great book, regardless whether you have a deaf child in the family, extended family or in the neighbourhood. Here’s a book …

  • to stimulate self-realized identity for the deaf child being integrated, aligned and identified in our contemporary “village”. “They”, the deaf, could become “we”. “They” should become “we”.
  • to encourage hearing people to take time to communicate with the deaf – “seek first, as in the deaf boy’s case, to understand – then seek to be understood”. (Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”). First the key players reacted to the BOY before they listened.
  • to provoke us to consider, how will we understand the other if you think from your own perspective.
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