A Deaf Child Listened Critical Essays

Anne E. Neimark


(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Neimark has written other juvenile and young adult biographies, such as Touch of Light: The Story of Louis Braille (1970) and Damien, the Leper Priest (1980). This biography of Gallaudet contains very little by way of conversation other than reported speech; direct quotations are drawn from journals, letters, and other documents. This approach may lack appeal for a young adult audience accustomed to dialogue that is dramatized to present the emotion behind the arguments. Nevertheless, readers will be able to sympathize with a character who is trying to overcome established roadblocks. Gallaudet’s frustration with other educators in England and with board members in Hartford is certainly clear, and his eventual success encourages the reader to persevere.

A Deaf Child Listened does not portray Gallaudet as a saint, but his weaknesses are not of his own making. His weak body prevented physical accomplishments and frustrated his early years of employment and study; an obstinate board of directors interfered with Gallaudet’s recommendations for the curriculum and his requests for a lighter work load. Because his goal was improved education for the hearing impaired, his recommendations are presented as the ideal, while his opponents’ are unacceptable. It is possible that the urgency of Gallaudet’s task was of such significance that Neimark deemed other character flaws inconsequential.

Neimark explores the...

(The entire section is 538 words.)