Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Helen Keller's Best Friend Belle

Helen Keller's Best Friend Belle

Holly M. Barry
Illustrator:  Jennifer Thermes 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Albert Whitman & Company, 2013   ISBN: 978-0807531983

Helen Keller was born in the summer of 1880 on a farm in Alabama. She was a lovely child who quickly learned how to talk and walk, but when she was a year old Helen got very sick and she lost her sight and her hearing. Suddenly her world was dark and silent, and she became a lonely, frightened, and often angry little girl. Helen could not communicate with her family members, except for her dogs, who did not mind that she could not see, hear, or talk to them. She could still touch and cuddle them and they knew that she loved them dearly.

   Helen grew up with a wonderful dog called Belle, and the two were inseparable. In 1887, a teacher called Anne Sullivan came to live with Helen and her family. After many battles, Anne finally managed to connect with Helen by teaching her how to communicate using her hands. With great enthusiasm Helen began to learn signed words and she tried to share these words with Belle by signing them onto her paw. Belle had no idea what Helen was doing, but later, after Helen learned how to speak at a special school in Boston, Belle came running when Helen came home and called out, “Come, Belle!”

   In this special picture book children will see how the love of dogs helped a young girl to connect with the world after she lost her sight and ability to hear. At the back of the book readers will find out more about Helen Keller’s life-long love of dogs, and ‘meet’ some of the pets who enriched her long life. There is also a biography of Helen Keller in which the author describes Helen many achievements.