Q&A with Megan Rix

Lizzie and Lucky – The Mystery of the Missing Puppies

Lizzie, being deaf, shows readers that she can do everything that other children can! How important was this message for you to convey?

Terribly important – because it’s true! Lizzie and her family would consider themselves not deaf, but Deaf, with a capital D. This is because they are proud of their Deaf identity, they use sign language and are very much part of the Deaf culture and community.

There are moments where the family are judged for their hearing loss- does this come from personal experience or of knowing these situations still exist?

Both! I’ve seen it happen often to adults. Plus, children tell me about their experiences. Lots of stories of bullying. I had a young child, with a sneery face, ask what I had in my ears, pointing at my hearing aids the other day and then saying: ‘You deaf?’ I can only think this attitude came from an adult.

I love the “bling” that features on the hearing aids! I didn’t realise this existed- do you have any “bling” on yours?

Oh yes – lots of different blingy things. Little jewels and also nail stickers. There’re professionals who sell bling too. Children’s hearing aids are usually much more colourful than adult ones even without the bling.

Lizzie finds herself involved in solving a mystery- a natural born detective! Is Lizzie based on anyone in your life?

I think Lizzie is mainly based on me as a child. I have two brothers and a sister. I’m the oldest and the shortest! We would have been very keen to solve a mystery and certainly to help find missing puppies as children.

Puppy theft is a horrible crime but one children need to be aware of- was the research hard to read on an emotional level?

Yes, it was very hard. There are some nasty stories out there of people’s cruelty. We’re involved with Dog Lost which helps to find missing dogs and return them to their owners. It always makes me sad to see a dog tied up outside a shop while the owner’s inside and can’t see them – it’s just too risky.

The illustrations are perfect for the story- how did you feel when you saw them?

Loooooved them!

Do you think pets and children benefit each other?

Absolutely!

What pets would you recommend for children?

Depends on the child and the place where they live. Dogs need exercise but a hamster or goldfish wouldn’t. I thought someone signed that they had a pig the other day – and I was really excited. They’d meant guinea pig – still good. Just a ‘g’ in front of the pig sign. I would love a real pig (and an alpaca or two and some chickens and donkeys…)

What other mysteries can we expect from Lizzie and Lucky?

The next Lizzie and Lucky book is being published In August. It’s called ‘The Mystery of the stolen Treasure’ and it’s about pirates and really, really exciting!

Thank you for adding Sign language at the end of the book, do you think this should be taught in schools?

I would love sign language to be taught in schools or taught anywhere. There’s lots of videos online as well as apps. I think the interactive, expressive nature of sign language has other benefits as well as communication (a bit like dance) in terms of improving empathy and confidence in children. Plus, I think children would enjoy it and adults too. More than 40% of adults over 50 have some sort of hearing loss and that rises to 70% for adults over 70. My friend learnt the sign language alphabet when she was at primary school and still remembers it today.

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