Time to Sign: Sign Language for Kids

illus. by Michael Reid, Randy Chewning, et al. 112p. diag. index. photos. Capstone. 2013. pap. $8.95. ISBN 978-1-62065-687-7.
K-Gr 4—In six thematic chapters, Clay introduces basic American Sign Language (ASL) vocabulary relating to everyday life and surroundings, people and places, the calendar, and conversations. Computer-generated cartoon children demonstrate the signs, accompanied by photos of objects and captions that often confuse by describing only the movement without clarifying other aspects, such as handshape. Oversimplification is a problem throughout. It is never mentioned, for example, that ASL is mainly used in the United States and Canada, thus reinforcing misconceptions about its universality. The critical grammatical role of nonmanual signals goes completely unmentioned-the section on questions, where a raised or lowered eyebrow is key to meaning, fails to address it at all, and the introduction asserts simply that "People use facial expressions when they sign. They smile when signing good news. They frown when signing sad news." More troublingly, some of the signs, such as "fruit," "vegetable," and "math," are depicted misleadingly or incorrectly. Look to Penny Warner's Learn to Sign the Fun Way! (Three Rivers, 2001) or Lora Heller's Sign Language for Kids (Sterling, 2004) instead.—Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, Carroll County Public Library, MD

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