Boogie Bass, Sign Language Star

Junior Library Guild Selection

How I Came to Write This Book

When I would give talks at bookstores about the previous titles in the After-School Superstars series, I’d ask the audience what cool ideas they had for other after-school camps that would be fun for me to write about and fun for readers to read about. One suggestion I received several times was: sign language! I love when the universe sends me a message like this. I knew I wanted this book to start Boogie Bass, the clumsy but exuberant kid with a huge caring heart. Nixie Ness, Cooking Star is a friendship story; Vera Vance, Comics Star centers on a mother- daughter relationship; and Lucy Lopez, Coding Star features tensions between two sisters. So I decided to make Boogie’s book focus on his relationship with his three brothers, who had already made an appearance earlier in the series. So far, so good. But now I had to join with Boogie and his friends in actually learning some sign language. The first thing I learned is that sign language is hard! I wasn’t good at it AT ALL! But the main thing I learned is that sign language is beautiful, a truly lovely way that human beings have developed for communicating with one another. I hope the book gets kids interested in exploring sign language and has them cheering for underdog Boogie as he comes into his own as a sign language star.

Published: 2021

Boogie Bass, Sign Language Star


In book four of the series, Boogie Bass, who has light skin and red hair, is having a hard time. He can’t seem to do anything right: he lets his dog destroy his little brother Bing’s favorite stuffed animal, and he almost hurts Bing playing indoor luge on the stairway. It’s no wonder that he feels awkward beginning after-school camp with his best friend Nolan, who always does everything right. This camp is American Sign Language camp and Boogie hopes the first sign he learns is, “I’m sorry.” After struggling through signing the alphabet, Boogie feels even more uncomfortable. But a visit to a school for the Deaf puts Boogie in a situation where he truly shines and starts making friends. The four After-School Superstars return in this wholesome look at how kids can overcome their own fears and insecurities by being true to themselves. Boogie’s outgoing personality is a real gift and his devotion to his family, as the oldest of four rambunctious brothers, is evident throughout. Once he gains confidence, Boogie feels less awkward and embraces his buoyant personality as a positive characteristic that makes him who he is. Charming black-and-white illustrations add to the appeal of the text. Included is background information on American Sign Language, as well as an illustration of the ASL Alphabet Chart. VERDICT A welcome entry in the series that would be an excellent addition to the school library or an SEL unit

– School Library Journal

Good-hearted Boogie Bass is in a third-grade sign language camp with friends, including his bestie Nolan, whom Boogie reveres, along with Nixie and Vera from the previous series entries. With one hearing and one Deaf teacher, Boogie and the other campers learn the basics of American Sign Language; briefly study its history; and even gets a demonstration of ASL ABC stories from Deaf students at another school. Boogie is a well-rounded character; he is kind and conscientious and learns to not be so tough on himself (“Maybe the point of learning a new language wasn’t to be perfect”), not to compare himself to others (especially Nolan), and to accept his own strengths. A lot of time in camp is spent on iconic signs (ones that look like what they represent), which can be typical for children first learning. But the book also captures the non-manual markers necessary for ASL—including facial expressions, at which Boogie excels — and a back-matter note provides more details about the language’s complex grammar.

– Horn Book