Helen's Big World: %E2%80%A8The Life of Helen Keller

Doreen Rappaport, illus. by Matt Tavares. Disney-Hyperion, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-7868-0890-8
Punctuating the narrative with excerpts from Keller's own writing, Rappaport and Tavares, previously paired on Jack's Path of Courage, take a sweeping approach to their picture book biography, beginning when Keller was a healthy baby ("The beginning of my life was simple and much like every other little life") and ending with her death at 87, when she had long been a national icon and social activist ("my love for America is not blind. Perhaps I am more conscious of her faults because I love her so deeply"). While Annie Sullivan remains a pivotal figure (many key scenes from The Miracle Worker are replayed), it's refreshing to see Keller granted a greater sense of agency, even if the book leans toward hagiography. There is one exception: a single image that appears right before Sullivan's arrival, in which Helen's mother struggles to comfort her writhing, disconsolate daughter. Dark and almost demonic, it conveys instantly both the catastrophic nature of Helen's disabilities and the steely will that raged to be unleashed. Ages 6–8. Agent: Faith Hamlin, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. Illustrator's agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/27/2012
Release date: 10/01/2012
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