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MISS SPITFIRE by Sarah Miller

MISS SPITFIRE

Reaching Helen Keller

By Sarah Miller

Age Range: 9 - 14

Pub Date: July 10th, 2007
ISBN: 978-1-4169-2542-2
Publisher: Atheneum

Why is the story of Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan so enthralling? Is it that they found success in the seemingly impossible struggle shared at some level by all young people: to articulate one’s true thoughts and feelings? If so, then debut author Miller nails her audience with this fictionalized account of the first few weeks of Helen and Annie’s acquaintance, leading up to the breakthrough scene at the water pump. Details drawn from Annie’s letters and Helen’s autobiography are fleshed out engagingly in the first-person voice of Miller’s imagined Annie, the young “spitfire” who overcomes obstacles no matter the power of the adults in her life. Acknowledging the presumption of writing someone else’s story, Miller provides resources to allow the reader to seek out more. Should young readers bother with fiction in this case, when so much biographical material is available? It’s hard to argue with Miller, as she sticks so close to the documented story while giving readers a good dose of the melodrama that makes it so appealing, a craving for more and the direction to find it. (author’s note, photographs, chronology, bibliography) (Fiction. 9-14)