HELEN KELLER

The compelling lives of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan are interwoven with quotations from their own writing in a choppy, flat, rehashing of the now-familiar story of Keller’s vast potential and the brilliant teaching skills that grew to make Helen’s social and intellectual life rich, but negated any semblance of a personal life for Anne. Though touched upon, several questions about relationships remain unanswered and basic motivations are glossed over, namely decisions regarding marital and family relationships. Brief insights into the nature of some of Keller’s major obstacles are succinctly summarized and enlarged by well-chosen selections from Helen’s biographies, yet still lack the depth and insight a fuller telling allows. In addition, well-selected and appropriately placed black-and-white photographs enhance the telling, but are standard fare chosen from various photo archives. What is perhaps most annoying is the writing style itself: paragraphs of two to three short, declarative sentences and an avoidance of contractions and complex sentence structure create the sense of a basal reader. Included in the “In Their Own Words” series, Sullivan’s clear introduction to Helen’s story teaches the difference between primary and secondary sources, but does not internally demonstrate the proper use of documentation. His primary and secondary resources are broken down in the bibliography and include further reading suggestions, as well as a listing of organizations that could provide supplemental report information. Satisfying the requirement for 100-page biography reports, this adds little else to the field. (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-439-14751-4

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2002

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Inspirational but occasionally unclear.

JUST LIKE ME

Gooding's debut profiles 40 famous people with disabilities.

The author, a mother of children with disabilities, opens the book with a note about her desire to find role models for her children. To that end, she alphabetically introduces racially diverse disabled people from around the world and throughout history. Diagnoses range from autism to limb difference. Historical figures include Japanese peace advocate Sadako Sasaki, who developed leukemia after the bombing of Hiroshima, and American abolitionist Harriet Tubman, who led fellow slaves to freedom despite epilepsy. Contemporary figures include athletes, authors, and entertainers: Polio survivor and Paralympian Malathi Krishnamurthy-Holla remains "one of the fastest female Indian athletes in a wheelchair"; Japanese nonverbal author Naoki Higashida penned popular books describing autism; English actor Daniel Radcliffe deals with dyspraxia, a coordination disorder; and Australian Madeline Stuart is the first professional model with Down syndrome. Each profile begins with an uplifting quote and concludes with a sidebar explaining the subject’s disability. Unfortunately, some sidebars emphasize colloquial over scientific terms. For instance, Stephen Hawking’s disability is named eponymously (Lou Gehrig's disease), “also known as ALS,” instead of with its scientific name, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Occasionally, vague phrasing creates confusion, such as when the author writes that a speech-generating device enabled Hawking to communicate by using a “touchpad.” (A hand clicker became his primary input method.) Various illustrators’ realistic renditions of smiling subjects complement the upbeat (albeit somewhat dry) text.

Inspirational but occasionally unclear. (glossary, quote sources) (Collective biography. 8-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-78741-848-6

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Bonnier/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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An interesting portrait of an American mover and shaker refreshingly presented in graphic novel format.

SHIRLEY CHISHOLM: A GRAPHIC NOVEL

From the It's Her Story series

“Fighting Shirley” was no ordinary politician.

The story opens in Barbados, where Shirley Chisolm spent a relatively carefree early childhood with her sister, Muriel, on their grandparents’ farm. Upon being sent to live with her parents in Brooklyn, Shirley had to adjust to much stricter household rules. She excelled academically throughout her school years, and after graduating from Brooklyn College, began her teaching career in early childhood education. As an administrator of child care centers, Chisolm devoted herself to child welfare and community affairs. Her work put her in touch with the needs of working people and their families, and she labored ceaselessly to get candidates elected who would make meaningful changes. Eventually, she decided to run for office herself and became the second Black woman elected to the New York Assembly and, after that, the country’s first Black congresswoman. Aggs relates how Chisholm dedicated her efforts to improving the lives of her constituents, often finding herself at loggerheads with colleagues. Chisholm’s boldness and desire for change led her to seek the Democratic Party nomination for president of the United States. Although she was unsuccessful, her groundbreaking campaign was a momentous sociopolitical event. This lively, optimistic biography is an accessible introduction to Chisholm’s life for younger readers, highlighting her determination to stay true to herself and her ideals. The illustrations aren’t particularly original, but the colorful panels effectively propel the narrative.

An interesting portrait of an American mover and shaker refreshingly presented in graphic novel format. (Graphic biography. 8-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5037-6241-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Sunbird Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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