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Megan is excited when Cindy moves into her neighborhood -- maybe she'll finally have a best friend. Sure enough, the two girls quickly become inseparable. Cindy even starts to learn sign language so they can communicate more easily.
But when they go away to summer camp together, problems arise. Cindy feels left out, because Megan is spending all of her time with Lizzie, another deaf girl; Megan resents that Cindy is always trying to help her, even when she doesn't need help. Before they can mend their differences, both girls have to learn what it means to be a friend. Oscar-winning actor and producer Marlee Matlin makes her writing debut about a topic she knows very well--the difficulties of growing up deaf. Nine-year-old Megan is thrilled when Cindy moves in down the street, even though the two couldn't be more different. Megan is boisterous; Cindy is shy. Megan loves everything with a passion, especially the color purple; Cindy shrinks from attention. Megan is deaf; Cindy can hear. Together, they forge an unlikely friendship that is tested when the two decide to attend summer camp together. There is another deaf child in their bunk, and suddenly Megan seems to forget the promise she made to Cindy to be "BFF," Best Friends Forever. Cindy struggles with this rejection, even as it forces her to step out from behind Megan's shadow and learn to speak up for herself. Once they are home again, the two reconcile when a hair-pulling argument dissolves into laughter.
The preeminent author of fiction about children with disabilities has always been the beloved Jean Little (Little by Little, Mine for Keeps, etc.). Having said that, Matlin is no Little, but her writing style is competent and clearly describes the realities of Megan's world. And even though Matlin's gently told story doesn't rise much above the "message" of Megan's disability, it's still a message that youngsters need to hear. (Ages 8 to 10) --Jennifer Hubert