Singing Hands

“Ray’s powerful control here creates realistically sympathetic characters, whose anxieties and disappointments are palpable…. superb work….”

Kirkus Reviews

Gussie Davis, a hearing daughter of deaf parents, cannot explain why she starts to hum right in the middle of a service conducted by her father, minister of Saint Jude’s Church for the Deaf in Birmingham, Alabama. Nor does her behavior improve after her father sends her to the fancy hearing church downtown, where she can sing along instead of merely watching the hymns performed in sign language. As she struggles with the consequences of her mounting misdeeds, Gussie longs to find her own identity in the worlds of both the “Ears” and the Deaf.

Following Gussie from one adventure to the next, Ray re-creates the South of 1948 with lively humor and deft portraits of a host of unusual characters. Inspired by her mother’s colorful stories about her own childhood with deaf parents, the author also provides an inside look at the prejudices and difficulties encountered by the deaf community.


Book Sense Summer 2006 Children's Pick

A 2007 Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies

Named to the 2007 Bank Street Best Children's Books of the Year List

Kansas' William Allen White Award Nominee, 2008-09

“An honest yet humorous look at a complicated time. Gussie and her sisters are characters who will stay with the reader for a long time.”
— BookPage

“Ray writes out of her family’s memories of a deaf grandfather who was a pioneer and leader in the southern deaf community, and her portrayal of a signing household is natural and convincing.”
—The Horn Book