Wishing everyone a wonderful season, whatever you may celebrate!
(Art from Little Author in the Big Woods, A Biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder,
Written by Yona Zeldis McDonough, Christy Ottaviano Books, coming Fall 2014.)
Helen Keller’s life is summarized for younger children in this attractively illustrated biography that uses Keller’s love for dogs as a unifying thematic thread.
The story focuses on Keller’s childhood, summarizing her early life in rural Alabama and the arrival in 1887 of her teacher, Anne Sullivan. Keller’s favorite dog, an Irish setter named Belle, is beside Keller as she learns from her teacher how to communicate with finger spelling. Teacher and student travel to Boston together, where Keller begins to learn how to speak, and she is able to call her dog to her when they return home to Alabama. This portion of the book is structured in a traditional picture-book format, using limited text and large-format illustrations that will work well for reading aloud to young children. The final few pages shift to more complex text describing additional dogs owned by Keller throughout her life as well as a summary of her college education, lecture tours and philanthropic work in her later years. This dual structure makes the book suitable both for young children and for older children looking for biographical information for school reports.
While Helen Keller’s love of dogs isn’t an integral part of her personal biography, it’s an interesting hook to draw children into the story of this fascinating, inspirational woman. (Picture book/biography. 4-10)