Author Looking for Help Launching Series Teaching Sign Language
Kentrell Martin wants to produce a book series that will help children learn American Sign Language.
Kentrell Martin learned to communicate in sign language as a child. Now, he’s working on a project to help others learn to sign.
Martin, a Land O’ Lakes resident, wants to create a series of books and DVDs called “Shelly’s Adventures” that focus on teaching American Sign Language. The books are geared toward kids. He ultimately wants to adapt the stories intIo a cartoon series andalso a live action series.
Martin, 30, is self-publishing the book series and has launched a campaign on Kickstarter to help cover the cost of producing the first two books and the two accompanying DVDs.
Kickstarter is a “crowdfunding” website where people can pledge money to projects they support. The goal for Martin’s project is to raise $5,000. People can pledge money to his campaign at the Shelly’s Adventure Kickstarter page.
To receive any money donated, Martin must at least meet the $5,000 goal. He has until 5:09 p.m., Feb. 10 to meet the goal. As of Wednesday, $572 had been pledged toward the project.
Martin says he wants to help “bridge the gap between the hearing world and the deaf world.”
“Not only can kids learn A.S.L., but their parents can,” he said.
The series stars Shelly, the child of a deaf adult. Her father and her brother are both deaf. Shelly is not deaf, but in the stories, she teaches her friends American Sign Language so they can communicate with her father and brother.
Each book tells a story, with the first tited Shelly’s Outdoor Adventure. It teaches the signs for tree, sun rainbow and other words. The second book is called Shelly Goes to the Zoo.
Martin plans on producing a series of at least 20 books of Shelly’s Adventures. He is writing the books, but someone else is illustrating them.
Each book will come with a DVD on which the book is read aloud. The DVDs also feature recordings of a live action interpreter performing the signs in the stories and telling the stories in ASL.
Martin says he worked with a sign language interpreter and ASL comedian, Windell “Wink” Smith of St Petersburg, to produce the DVDs and make sure signs are correct.
The first book is almost complete, with Martin waiting on cover illustrations.
Martin says that even if he doesn’t raise the goal on Kickstarter, he still plans on putting out the books; it just might take longer.
Martin grew up in Gainesville with a deaf older brother, Kennith, and learned sign language to communicate with him. Martin started signing at the age of 4.
Martin, who currently works in vault operations at a Bank of America in Tampa, was watching television with his brother’s daughter years ago when he saw a cartoon character make a sign he didn’t know. He was taken by how quickly he was able to learn the sign.
He began to research what it takes to make a cartoon and learned that it was difficult to make one. He looked for other children’s show that taught ASL but couldn’t find any. He then noticed a lot of cartoons were based on childrens books. He also failed to find kids books that taught ASL while telling a story.
He credits that whole experience with being the genesis for getting started on Shelly’s adventures.
He said that people who donate to Shelly’s Adventures will be helping a good cause and the start of something great.”
Martin has not finished the series. He plans to start off releasing two books every other year, with the first books being published this year.
“My ultimate dream is to have the series turned into a cartoon and live show,” Martin said.
Having the cartoon first would be ideal, he said, but it really wouldn't matter in the long run.
“Branding Shelly and getting her exposure is the main thing,” Martin said. “I think the rest will eventually follow.”
Find out more about his project at his Kickstarter page. You can also find a list of the incentives granted to people who pledge certain amounts on the page.
Martin also set up a limited liability corporation to publish Shelly’s adventures. Find it at http://www.shellysadventuresllc.com.