Renowned children’s author, Megan Rix (The Lost War Dog, Florence and the Mischievous Kitten), has written a brilliant book in her Lizzie & Lucky series. Today we are reviewing Lizzie & Lucky: the Mystery of the Stolen Treasure. This book features a Deaf protagonist, Lizzie, who uses sign language at home with her Deaf parents.
Eight-year-old Lizzie is a detective, she comes armed with gloves, binoculars, and her Mum’s old tweezers. She also has the support of her dog, Lucky, whom she rescued in the first book of the series, Lizzie & Lucky: The Mystery of the Missing Puppies.
Hyper-observant Lizzie is always on the lookout for suspicious behaviour. She is very concerned about fairness. She is unafraid to call out people for behaving unjustly, even adults.
Lizzie and her parents go to see her parental grandparents by the sea. There, Lizzie’s Dad teaches her about Sign Hand Stan, a deaf pirate from long ago.
At the nearby pirate museum, Lizzie tries to decipher an invisible ink message written by Sign Hand Stan in an early form of sign language.
However, the new museum owner, Mr Dobson, is only interested in making money. He does not value the significance or sentimental meaning of the artefacts in his museum.
With Lucky, Lizzie manages to find Sign Hand Stan’s shipwreck. And with the help of her family, she manages to prevent Mr Dobson from finding it and purging it of its artefacts too. Together, they hatch a plan to have Mr Dobson caught by the Arts and Antiquities Unit of the police.
For Deaf Readers…
This is a wonderful read for both children who belong to the deaf and hearing communities.
For deaf children, or those who have grown up learning sign language to communicate with a loved one, this book offers familiarity. It is vital that children feel seen in the books they read. They can go wherever their imagination takes them! And that may well be as a detective, like Lizzie.
Megan Rix even brings up the importance of representation in the story. Lizzie and her family feel a connection to Sign Hand Stan because he is proof that deafness need not hold you back – you can be as dangerous and as powerful as a pirate. Lizzie just wishes that there was also a lady deaf pirate for her to learn about too.
Children are always looking for themselves in fiction, the media, and in history. This is because it inspires and empowers them to believe in their own capabilities.
For Hearing Readers…
As someone with no hearing loss, I very quickly became adjusted to Lizzie and her family using sign language. In the home setting, Lizzie and her parents use sign language all the time. It is seamless. This is how a family of deaf people communicates.
It is only really outside of the home that we learn how deafness makes life different for Lizzie. For example, Lizzie’s grandparents are not deaf, and although they speak sign language well, when they are speaking to hearing people, she must lip-read. There is a moment where Lizzie cannot lip-read because it is too dark. When Mr Dobson shouts very loudly, Lizzie can faintly hear it. In another moment, Lizzie’s Dad must video call a sign-language interpreter when he wants to talk to the police.
All these incidents make the hearing reader think about what it must be like to be a deaf person in a world so reliant on sound.
This book will teach children to really think what it must be like to be someone else…
“Everything a hearing person can do, a deaf person can do too!”
When Lizzie and her family need to chase a suspected perpetrator, Lizzie’s Dad can tackle him to the ground – because he used to be on the national Deaf rugby team.
Lizzie’s parents are part of the local Deaf theatre. Learn more about the History of Deaf Theatre here. Deafinitely theatre is the first deaf launched and deaf led professional theatre company in the UK producing bilingual theatre in British sign language and spoken English. You can watch their show reel here.
Unfortunately, Sign Hand Stan is a fictional character. Still, the book touches on the history of deafness. We learn about Princess Joanna of Scotland, who is reported to have used sign language between 1428-1486. We also learn about the Digiti-Lingua 1698, the earliest written form of what would develop into British sign language. Click here to learn more about the history of British sign language.
We especially welcome books about diversity when they are written from a place of knowledge and understanding. Megan was almost fifty when she was diagnosed with hearing loss. You can learn all about her journey to diagnosis here. However, Megan was born with hearing loss. Her diagnosis meant that a lot of experiences, such as her dependency on lip-reading, suddenly made sense.
As Megan didn’t know she had hearing loss until later life, she says, ‘I didn’t consciously miss not having deaf heroes in books when I was a child because I didn’t identify myself as deaf. Now though, if I was a child again, I know I would love to have more. Lots and lots more!’ – We’re in agreement!
To fully diversify our bookshelves, we need more books like Lizzie & Lucky! Megan weaves deafness into her story in a way that means that it is a part of Lizzie’s identity, but it certainly is not the only interesting thing about her or her family. This book caters to many: dog-lovers, pirates, detectives, History enthusiasts, and people who care about (or are interested in) sign language.
As you can see, we highly recommend Lizzie & Lucky: The Mystery of the Stolen Treasure. You can purchase it here.