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HELEN KELLER by Elizabeth MacLeod


A Determined Life

by Elizabeth MacLeod & illustrated by Andrej Krystoforski

Age Range: 6 - 8

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-1-55337-999-7
Publisher: Kids Can

Helen Keller’s inspiring story has a way of making it into most elementary-school curricula. Many easy-reader books about her life already exist, all keeping to the surface, rarely getting at the complexities of her life. This is no exception. The familiar story unfolds with little drama: birth, fever, the Boston visit, Annie Sullivan, the W-A-T-E-R scene, college, travels, death. Modern readers, even young ones, could surely handle some of the lesser-known details of Keller’s politics and adult life. Strangely, MacLeod chooses to call the adults in Helen’s life by their first names. While this works with Annie, it does not with Alexander (Graham Bell). Watercolor-filled ink drawings carefully match the text, but competent illustrations cannot make up for what is missing: energy and insight. A better choice for new readers would be Johanna Hurwitz’s Step into Reading offering, Helen Keller: Courage in the Dark (1997), the stalwart Stewart and Polly Graff’s Helen Keller: Crusader for the Blind and Deaf (1991), or for older readers, Joan Dash’s The World at Her Fingertips (2001). The lack of notes, bibliography or online resources further mar this book. (Biography. 6-8)