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Blatchford, Claire H. 1944-

BLATCHFORD, Claire H. 1944-

PERSONAL: Born January 3, 1944, in Washington, DC; daughter of John I. (a banker) and Nelda A. (an artist) Howell; married Edward W. Blatchford (a headmaster), April 6, 1968; children: Laurel, Christa. Education: Bennington College, B.A., 1966; Adelphi University, M.A., 1968; Columbia University, M.A., 1970. Hobbies and other interests: Pottery, weaving, tennis, gardening, hiking, canoeing, "taking groups of young people on backpacking trips, studying contemporary young adult literature."

ADDRESSES: Home—113 Sam Hill Rd., Guilford, CT06437.

CAREER: Caritas Day Classes for Deaf Children, Rockville Center, NY, teacher of kindergarten and art, 1970-72; arts and crafts teacher at elementary schools and public libraries, 1980-94; has also worked as a substitute teacher.

WRITINGS:

Listening: Notes from a Kindergarten Journal, Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf (Washington, DC), 1972.

Yes, I Wear a Hearing Aid, illustrated by Barbara Rothenberg, Lexington School for the Deaf (New York, NY), 1976.

All Alone (Except for My Dog Friday), David C. Cook (Elgin, IL), 1983.

Down the Path, illustrated by Mike Eagle, Dushkin (Guilford, CT), 1992.

A Surprise for Reggie, illustrated by Mike Eagle, Dushkin (Guilford, CT), 1992.

Shawna's Bit of Blue Sky, illustrated by Mike Eagle, Dushkin (Guilford, CT), 1992.

Nick's Mission, Lerner Publications (Minneapolis, MN), 1994.

Full Face: A Correspondence about Becoming Deaf in Mid-Life, Butte (Hillsboro, OR), 1997.

Many Ways of Hearing, J. Weston Walch (Portland, ME), 1997.

Going with the Flow, illustrated by Janice Lee Porter, Carolrhoda (Minneapolis, MN), 1997.

Friend of My Heart: Meeting Christ in Everyday Life, Lindisfarne Books (Hudson, NY), 1999.

Nick's Secret, Lerner Publications (Minneapolis, MN), 2000.

Turning: Words Heard from Within, Lindisfarne Books (Great Barrington, MA), 2001.

Work represented in anthologies, including No Walls of Stone: An Anthology of Literature by Deaf and Hard of Hearing Writers, edited by Jill Jepson, Gallaudet University Press (Washington, DC), 1992, and Of Cabbages and Kings 2: The Year's Best Magazine Writing for Kids, edited by Kimberly Olson Fakih, Bowker (New Providence, NJ), 1992. Contributor of stories and articles to magazines, including Spider, Hip, Catholic Digest, Flyfisher, Cricket, and Better Health.

WORK IN PROGRESS: A sequel to Nick's Mission.

SIDELIGHTS: Claire H. Blatchford has used her personal experiences with deafness as a resource for her books, several of which are stories for young readers such as Going with the Flow. In this tale for elementary school audiences, young Mark, who is deaf, endures some of the same problems that the author did when she was young when he enrolls in a school where there are no deaf children. However, finding a friend in classmate Keith, who invites Mark to join the basketball team, helps ease the transition. As Kay Weisman noted in her Booklist review, Going with the Flow is "a good choice to help hearing students understand the world of the deaf."

In her "Nick Wilder" mystery series for children, including Nick's Mission and Nick's Secret, Blatchford takes a unique approach to discussing the problems deaf people may face by combining this theme with a mystery plot. In the first book, thirteen-year-old Nick, who is deaf, uncovers a ring of rare bird smugglers and ends up in a dangerous situation in which he has to be able to communicate with others in order to be rescued. Surviving the experience helps him gain a real appreciation for the speech therapy sessions he had been resisting until then.

In the sequel, Nick's Secret, animals are once again involved when Nick tries to help Ionie, a dog breeder who cannot feed her dogs because Daryl, a bully whose gang has been pestering Nick, has stolen money from her. Added to this is a complication involving dangerous dog thieves who want to abduct Ionie's prized animals. Nick hides Ionie in the basement of the pet store where he works, but in order to really help her he will have to involve his mother and her new boyfriend, whom he does not trust. The predicament will mean that both Nick and his mother will have to gain a new level of trust in each other.

Blatchford once commented, "I lost my hearing overnight at the age of six when I had the mumps. My parents put me back in public school, and I stayed there, even though I didn't get a hearing aid until I was twelve (because there was nothing powerful enough). There were no oral or signing interpreters in those days. No one took notes for me, and there was no closed captioning on television or TTYs (telephone typewriters for the deaf), so I read a lot to keep up with my classmates. I was also a pretty good bluffer!" The author told CA: "At age eleven I knew I wanted to write, in fact had to write. When I read, and when I wrote, all the hassles of being deaf were instantly removed. I could understand what everyone said without having to ask people to look at me or repeat what they were saying. I could hear animals, plants, angels, elves, gnomes, and other mysterious creatures speak. Words took me all over the world, out into space, deep down in the chambers of the heart, high up in the towers of the mind, forward and backward in time. They still do. I feel privileged to work with words and hope the ones I use ring true and call forth the best in others."

In addition to her fiction, Blatchford has written nonfiction works, some with religious themes, about deafness for older audiences. She is also currently working with her husband to establish a high school in Massachusetts for the deaf.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

periodicals

Booklist, November 15, 1995, p. 559; June 1, 1998, Kay Weisman, review of Going with the Flow, p. 1763.

School Library Journal, October, 1996, p. 120.*

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