Monday, November 26, 2012

Nonfiction Monday: Annie and Helen by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Raul Colon

In free verse, Hopkinson tells the story of Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan from their first meeting to their first trip together and Helen's first letter home, written by herself. She describes the frustration of Helen and Annie's determination and the wonderful moment when Helen first connected words and the objects they represented.

Information about the different methods Helen used to communicate and Annie's life before Helen are interspersed throughout the text, but the main theme of the story is Helen's joyous journey as she discovers the world around her and the ability to communicate. Quotations from Annie Sullivan's letters are included throughout the book. The story ends with a recreation of Helen Keller's letter.

The endpapers are covered with historic photos of Helen and Annie and the story begins with an author's note giving background information about the lives of the two women. There is a list of further reading and websites contained in the publication information on the final page.

The illustrations are simple watercolors, but they give life and power to the spare prose, showing Helen's vigorous movements and Annie's calm support. Simple scenery and backgrounds focuses the action on the characters and the bland earth tones give a quiet, peaceful feel to the story.

Verdict: This is a lovely book and beautifully written. It has collected quite a few stars and awards. But. Do we really need another biography of Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan? There are numerous picture book, middle grade, graphic and even manga biographies of these two extraordinary women already on the scene and while this is a lovely and well-written book, it doesn't bring anything new to the story. A school library that needs multiple books on these historical figures will want this, but it's an additional purchase for a public library, especially if you already have multiple titles on this subject.

ISBN: 9780375857065; Published September 2012 by Schwartz and Wade/Random House; Review copy provided by the publisher


Tammy Flanders said...

I appreciate your comment about this as an additional purchase. I thought it looked great but didn't think we needed another book about Helen and Annie.
Apples with Many Seeds

Myra Garces-Bacsal from GatheringBooks said...

Another Helen Keller book! How nice. You're right in noting that there may be quite a few books written about Helen Keller, it's interesting to see the various perspectives though about her life.