Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Helen Keller: A Photographic Story of a life

Helen Keller: A Photographic Story of a life

Leslie Garrett
For ages 8 to 10
Dorling Kindersley, 2004   ISBN: 978-0756603397

There is no doubt that if Helen Keller had not had the loving and kind parents that she had, she may well have ended up in an institution. When she was only one and a half Helen became deaf and blind due to illness. Unable to hear, speak or see Helen grew into a frustrated little girl who was cut off from the world. Prone to temper tantrums and with dreadful manners Helen was hard to cope with. Her parents had taken her to see doctors and experts but no one seemed to be able to help the child.

Then Annie Sullivan, who was herself partially blind, came to teach Helen. It was hard work but Annie was a determined woman who did not give up easily. Through repetition, kindness, and a firm hand, Annie began to get through to Helen teaching her a special sign language which could be "spelled" into Helen?s hand. It began with Annie having Helen touch something, after which Annie would spell the name of the object into Helen?s hand. Once Helen made the connection between an object or person and the signs that Annie made in her hand, Helen began at last to communicate. Thus she learned that the substance that came out of the pump in the yard was called water and the toys that she loved to play with the most were called dolls.

Helen began to learn hundreds of words, words describing things and also words describing actions and feelings. Next she took on the challenge of learning how to write and went to a great deal of trouble to learn how to speak.

With these basic skills under her belt, Helen went on to take up more challenges. She learned other languages, and she came to feel that she had a purpose in life; Helen was going to do all she could to help those in this world who are poor, disadvantaged, and handicapped. She was going to speak and write for those who had no voice.

Because Helen became very famous for her remarkable achievements, people were willing to listen to what she said. People in positions of power and influence were willing to consider her requests for help and support. Helen wanted to help all those unfortunate people who were blind and who had no means of getting an education. She wanted the world to understand that we all need to help others who are less fortunate than ourselves.

Helen Keller?s inspirational story is presented here in with compassion and obvious admiration. The author meticulously researched her subject and she manages to show us what Helen was like as a person, on the inside. Helen was not only brave, kind, and generous, but she was also determined to make a difference. Her achievements served to show the world that a person really can overcome almost anything if they are determined to do so and that it is up to every single one of us to work towards a better world.

Full of beautiful photographs of Helen, her friends and family, and the places and people who influenced her, this biography is both thought-provoking and moving.