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ANNIE AND HELEN by Deborah Hopkinson


by Deborah Hopkinson & illustrated by Raúl Colón

Age Range: 5 - 10

Pub Date: Sept. 11th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-375-85706-5
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

A clear, simple narrative retells a powerful story of determination and triumph for a team of two: Anne Sullivan and her famous student, Helen Keller.

The story is nearly the stuff of legend: how the young teacher, herself partially blinded, finds a way out of the darkness for a willful blind and deaf girl whose early childhood was spent mostly without access to language. Hopkinson’s likable account for young listeners and primary-grade readers is drawn from Keller’s The Story of My Life. Appealing and dramatic anecdotes convey the breathtaking success that Anne and Helen achieved in a few short months, from Helen’s first word in the spring to her first letter later that summer. Hopkinson neatly explains the difference between sign language and the fingerspelling that Anne used to talk with Helen, describing Anne’s determination to immerse Helen in language “the way people talk into a baby’s ears.” Colón’s gentle, light-hued watercolors create a feeling of quietness, their textured lines suggesting the tactile world of touch, motion and vibration that spoke most immediately to Helen. A dozen excellent photographs of Helen Keller as a child and young adult, four of them with Anne, grace the endpapers.

The story of this remarkable pair does not grow old, and here is a charming way to learn it for the first time. (author’s note; list of acknowledgments, print and online sources) (Picture book biography. 5-10)