________________ CM . . . . Volume X Number 15 . . . . March 26, 2004

cover

Helen Keller: A Determined Life. (Snapshots).

Elizabeth MacLeod.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can, 2004.
32 pp., pbk. & cl., $7.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (cl.).
ISBN 1-55337-509-2 (pbk.), ISBN 1-55337-508-4 (cl.).

Subject Headings:
Keller, Helen, 1880-1968-Juvenile literature.
Sullivan, Annie, 1866-1936-Juvenile literature.
Blind-deaf women-United States-Biography-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-6 /Ages 8-11.

Review by Linda Ludke.

*** /4

excerpt:

Almost as soon as Annie met Helen, she began spelling words into the little girl's hands using the one-hand manual alphabet. Helen copied the shapes back to Annie, but they meant nothing to her. Still, Helen's ability to repeat the letters so easily showed how smart she was.

This fifth title in the "Snapshots" biography series provides an informative introduction to "America's First Lady of Courage." Early chapters examine Helen Keller's childhood and the illness that left her deaf and blind when she was 19 months old. Helen's wild temperament, earning her the nickname of "Little Bronco," belied her intelligence as she devised her own form of sign language, shivering when she wanted ice cream, and pretending to put on glasses when she wanted her father. Readers familiar with Helen Keller's story will be fascinated by MacLeod's research and learn that it was Alexander Graham Bell, also renown for teaching the deaf, who introduced Helen to her "Miracle Worker," Annie Sullivan. Despite Helen Keller's fame and remarkable achievements, such as being the first deaf-blind graduate from Radcliffe College, she struggled to make a living. Further chapters outline her forays into writing, lecturing, movie acting, vaudeville entertaining and fundraising.

     The pages are enhanced with photographs, memorabilia and sign language examples. Small pen and ink caricature sketches with dialogue bubbles further engage the reader. At the end of the book, a timeline is included. Students will find "Helen's life at a glance" to be a useful summary. A sidebar, entitled "Visit Helen," provides details on three tourist sites: Helen's birthplace, Ivy Green in Tuscumbia, Alabama; Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site in Baddeck, Nova Scotia; and Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts. However, no specific addresses are given, nor any contact information. This is a well researched, clearly written biography that will be a welcome addition to school and public library collections.

Recommended.

Linda Ludke is a librarian in London, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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