From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 4–7—"I know that the education of this child will be the distinguishing event of my life, if I have the brains and perseverance to accomplish it," wrote Annie Sullivan. Her words proved so prophetic that few know the story of this remarkable woman outside of her role as Keller's teacher. The daughter of poor Irish immigrants, she struggled with vision loss for most of her life. After her mother's death, her abusive father abandoned the eight-year-old and her brother, and the two were sent to the poorhouse. At age 14, she finally entered school, with no worldly possessions, no education, and no manners. And yet she graduated six years later as valedictorian of her class and would go on to win acclaim as one of history's greatest educators. Illustrated with period photographs and a pleasing graphic style, Delano's text makes extensive use of meticulously cited quotes from primary sources to convey not only the facts of Sullivan's life, but the everyday realities and emotions as well. The book emphasizes that the woman was a great teacher not in spite of her own struggles, but because they gave her a unique empathy for her student and a determination to never give up.—Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, Carroll County Public Library, MD
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There are many biographies of Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan, but this one is very nicely done. The book begins by chronicling Sullivan’s sad early life, abandoned by her family to a depressing poorhouse. Sullivan was visually impaired, and her plea for learning led to a place at the Perkins Institution for the Blind. Eventually, she is sent to Alabama to become Helen Keller’s teacher. One of the most famous moments of Helen’s life, her connection between the word and the water from the pump, is not highlighted; instead it’s presented as part of the many incredible moments comprising the mosiac of Keller’s life. The book is honest in its portrayals, especially of Sullivan, who could be quick to take offense, particularly when her role as Keller’s teacher was downplayed. What makes this oversize book so appealing is the clean design, with a large typeface. The many fascinating photographs are sometimes placed over historical documents. A chronology and a list of resources, including Web sites, take up a whole page; quotations are sourced. Make room for this. Grades 4-7. --Ilene Cooper