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Annie and Helen Hardcover – September 11, 2012
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“...What is breathtakingly shown here, through accurate, cross-hatched watercolor paintings; excerpts from Sullivan’s correspondence to her former teacher; and concise and poetic language, is the woman’s patience and belief in the intelligence of her student to grasp the concepts of language....elucidating the brilliant process of educating the deaf and blind pioneered by Annie Sullivan.”
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Top Customer Reviews
There is a great deal of information here but also a good many pictures to keep young children interested and engaged.
Hopkins intersperses her narrative, which begins on the day when Annie Sullivan came into Helen Keller's life, with excerpts from Annie's own letters to her friend and former teacher, Sophia Hopkins. We see Helen throwing a violent tantrum, her dog running away from her: "Helen was like a small, wild bird, throwing herself against the bars of a dark and silent cage." But Annie, who fought her own battle against blindness, understood that Helen needed discipline, and "prepared for battle." She and Helen moved into a small house on the family's property, and Annie helped Helen accept rules and teaching. But how could she teach her language? Hopkinson explains the manual finger alphabet used by Annie, and provides drawings of the hand positions for each letter in the text as well as explaining how Annie tried to teach Helen the names of familiar objects. When Helen finally grasps the concept of words at the water pump, as cool water splashed on her hand, the world of language quickly opened up to her. Sullivan writes about Helen on April 5, 1887: "A new light came into her face."
Hopkinson shows us Helen as a very bright child, giving many examples of how she put together words. We even see Helen running and jumping with joy on their walks. Annie also taught Helen to read using Braille and how to write using a special braille typewriter. The book concludes with a letter written to her mother on a short trip with her father.
The book is beautifully illustrated by award-winning artist Raul Colon, whose gentle, water-colored earth-toned illustrations capture the special relationship between these two remarkable women. Back matter includes a few suggestions for further reading and a selection of websites to learn more about Annie and Helen. Endpapers feature some of the many photographs of Helen and Annie. The author also includes an author's note, which provides some basic biographical information on both women.
I would highly recommend this picture book to share in a classroom or at home; it only covers a brief period in the relationship between Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan, but this book could easily be supplemented with other volumes for those young people who want to learn more about this famous teacher-pupil relationship.
This book looks mostly at the early relationship between Annie and Helen and cuts off by the time Helen goes to Radcliffe. Nothing about her political activism and radical socialism. That's fine.
Great illustrations throughout do more to convey the power of the story than the text. The text is ok, written unnecessarily but unobtrusively in free verse.
Really good picture biography; includes actual photographs and a copy of the first letter Helen wrote to her mother. The back cover has a raised braille alphabet.
This book explains it all, in a way that acknowledges the enormity of the task but makes the process understandable. Helen is a real, frustrated, tantrum-throwing girl. And Annie is a real person, patient, firm, and determined. Their story is amazing and inspiring.
And the writing is pretty amazing, too.
About Helen, before she could communicate with words: "Helen was like a small, wild bird, throwing herself against the bars of a dark and silent cage."
About Annie's determination: "Annie spelled into Helen's palm all day long. Like someone on a windy peak trying to kindle a fire for warmth, Annie kept hoping for a spark to catch."
And structuring the book around Annie's letter to her own former teacher makes the ending, the text of Helen's very first written letter, the perfect ending, at once an end and a beginning.
This is a lovely book, start to finish.
Review copy from my library.