Friday, October 07, 2011

Book Review: Helen Keller: Her Life in Pictures, by George Sullivan (Scholastic, 2007)

Recommended for ages 8-12

As a little girl, I was captivated by Helen Keller's life story. Losing her sight and hearing as a baby, and growing up in darkness and silence? I couldn't even imagine. And having a teacher brave enough to reach in and pull me into the light? One can only imagine Helen Keller's struggles, but what is even more amazing and inspirational are her triumphs: graduating college with honors at a time when women were still fighting for the right to vote. Learning to lip read while being blind and deaf, relying only on touch to communicate with the outside world. Becoming a political and social activist at a time when women were supposed to be seen and not heard. She was an amazing woman who was surrounded by amazing women; first, her beloved teacher Annie Sullivan and later Polly Thomson, and when I saw this book in my local library, I snatched it up.

I was not disappointed. Helen Keller: Her Life in Pictures is a gorgeous book filled with photos of Helen throughout her life. There are childhood pictures of her and pictures of her with Annie Sullivan; we see pictures throughout her college career at Radcliffe, and we see pictures of her with the many public officials she met throughout her life. Always mindful of her appearance so people would not look at her and see her handicap first, she is always dressed beautifully and perpetually smiling. There are some candid photos, including shots of her with her pets and even a shot of Helen, Annie, and Annie's husband, John Macy.

Keller's great-grandniece Keller Johnson-Thompson writes the foreward where she discusses asking her grandmother questions about her famous relative. Notes at the end of the book provide further reading on Helen Keller, including a link to Ms. Johnson-Thompson's biography on the American Foundation for the Blind's home page, where she serves as an Ambassador; there are many links to Helen Keller photographs and artifacts on this page. There is also a link to the Helen Keller birthplace museum.

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