Updated: Oct 12
Writing a children’s book is something Kathleen Marcath had always wanted to do, and once her grandchildren Bella and Dylan arrived, the dream really took hold.
Watching Dylan, now 4, delight in carrying his monster trucks everywhere, and having Bella, now 10, constantly telling the world, ‘My Mimi’s writing a book and she’s going to be an author,’ pushed Marcath to complete her first work.
“Bella was telling everyone at the grocery store, and even Santa, so she was my accountability,” laughed Marcath.
Her debut children's picture book, "My Monster Truck Goes Everywhere with Me: Illustrated in American Sign Language,” was published on Nov. 3, 2020. An inclusive book that encourages the use of American Sign Language, it is presented over 38 colorful pages with illustrations sharing the story of Dylan and his trucks, complete with signing on every page.
The book has been well received, and Marcath is particularly proud because there
aren’t many ASL picture books for children on the market today.
A longtime Armada resident, Marcath was formerly employed as a sign language support specialist for one-on-one work with a hearing-impaired student at Memphis Community Schools.
Learning ASL wasn’t something Marcath planned, but instead, it just sort of happened. She said first, she attended a retreat where they happen to teach everyone a song in ASL, and when she returned home, she performed it at her church, which delighted the congregation. Next, she was a guest at another larger church where it was crowded and she simply sat down in the first open seat she could find. As she began signing a song, those around her were amazed, and she found out she was actually seated in the deaf section.
“They were all saying wow, and it was just a really odd chain of events, but the song was in my head and on my hands, so I got hooked and just stayed with it after that,” Marcath recalled.
She then went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in deaf community studies from Madonna University.
“In one of my ASL classes we had to tell a story in sign language using a children’s book and that’s when I found out there weren’t any books like this, that included sign language, and I don’t mean up in the corner of the page, but actually within the illustrations,” Marcath said.
Once she began forming the actual story for her monster truck tale Marcath started looking into self-publishing and took a 12-week course to learn all about it. She studied all the ins and outs including how to hire an illustrator, graphic designer and editor, plus what’s involved in getting a book printed
“It was a lot of work, and in hindsight, I learned writing the book was the easy part,” Marcath said.
She ended up using two illustrators for the book. An artist in Singapore who is Deaf provided all the images, while another artist from Texas added vibrant color to the pages.
“It was important to me to have a deaf illustrator to tell the story and make sure all the signs were right,” Marcath said.
Response and reviews for the book have been overwhelmingly positive, reaching readers of every age and gender. The book also recently received a favorable Kirkus Review. Marcath said while the books geared for children ages 3 to 7, it is finding its way into the hearts of people of every age. Examples include:
• An author and teacher who purchased the book for her granddaughter in college taking ASL classes.
• Deaf artist Shawn Richards said as a deaf grandparent, the book is fun for both his grandsons, one hearing and one deaf.
• Second-grade teacher Penny Samp at Memphis Elementary School said the book sparked a conversation about hearing loss and sign language with her students that they would never have had.
• A mom who has a child with progressive hearing loss said he stated with tears in his eyes, that he was so happy to see a child in a book using ASL, and it was kind of cool for him to think I’m not "the only one.”
The book was published in both hard and softcover formats and is priced at $17.99 and $12.99. It can be ordered at local book stores or purchased on Amazon. For more information, visit Marcath’s website at aslpicturebooks.com.
Thank you to Barb Pert Templeton for this great interview.
Barb Pert Templeton is a freelance reporter. She can be contacted at Barbperttempleton.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Macomb County has a long and storied history full of vibrant and driven characters. Bernard Trinity of Chesterfield Township launched a neighborhood library in his own home. The Weiss family from Clinton Township grew award-winning roses and relocated families from Japanese internment camps during World War II. Colorful politicians like Tom Welsh in St. Clair Shores and Richard Notte in Sterling Heights earned their place in local lore. A shy, unassuming Memphis art teacher turned out to be the infamous multiple personality patient Sybil. There's true crime, too, including the attempted murder of a prominent Utica doctor in 1872 and the shooting of Richmond native Gilbert "Square Deal" Miller's grandson in 1961. Author Barb Pert Templeton collects two hundred years of Macomb County heritage.