Annie and Helen

Annie and Helen

by Deborah Hopkinson, Raul Colon
     
 

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"What is breathtakingly shown here, through accurate, cross-hatched watercolor paintings; excerpts from Sullivan’s correspondence to her former teacher; and concise and poetic language, is the woman’s patience and belief in the intelligence of her student to grasp the concepts of language," praised School Library Journal in a starred

Overview

"What is breathtakingly shown here, through accurate, cross-hatched watercolor paintings; excerpts from Sullivan’s correspondence to her former teacher; and concise and poetic language, is the woman’s patience and belief in the intelligence of her student to grasp the concepts of language," praised School Library Journal in a starred review.

Author Deborah Hopkinson and illustrator Raul Colón present the story of Helen Keller in a fresh and original way that is perfect for young children. Focusing on the relationship between Helen and her teacher, Annie Sullivan, the book is interspersed with excerpts of Annie's letters home, written as she struggled with her angry, wild pupil. But slowly, with devotion and determination, Annie teaches Helen finger spelling and braille, letters, and sentences. As Helen comes to understand language and starts to communicate, she connects for the first time with her family and the world around her. The lyrical text and exquisite art will make this fascinating story a favorite with young readers. Children will also enjoy learning the Braille alphabet, which is embossed on the back cover of the jacket.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Combining short excerpts from Annie Sullivan's letters with lyrical prose, Hopkinson (A Boy Called Dickens) succeeds in making the early years of the relationship between Helen Keller and the woman she called Teacher feel newly remarkable. Hopkinson is especially good at bringing alive for younger audiences the complexity of language acquisition and the ingenuity and indomitable will that drove Sullivan's teaching methods. "Mothers and fathers don't give babies vocabulary lessons or worry about teaching grammar—they just talk," Hopkinson points out after Helen and Annie have their famous breakthrough at the pump. How do you teach someone who neither sees nor hears the concept of "very"? How do you explain the workings of a preposition? The book could actually prompt a lively discussion among audiences wading into the thick of language arts. While Colón's (Alicia Alonso: Prima Ballerina) crisply inked, sepia-toned watercolors take readers back in time and echo the mood of the archival photos shown on the endpapers, they provide less of a sense of the deep emotional connection between these two extraordinary people. Ages 4–8. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. Illustrator's agent: Morgan Gaynin. (Sept.)
Kirkus Reviews
A clear, simple narrative retells a powerful story of determination and triumph for a team of two: Anne Sullivan and her famous student, Helen Keller. The story is nearly the stuff of legend: how the young teacher, herself partially blinded, finds a way out of the darkness for a willful blind and deaf girl whose early childhood was spent mostly without access to language. Hopkinson's likable account for young listeners and primary-grade readers is drawn from Keller's The Story of My Life. Appealing and dramatic anecdotes convey the breathtaking success that Anne and Helen achieved in a few short months, from Helen's first word in the spring to her first letter later that summer. Hopkinson neatly explains the difference between sign language and the fingerspelling that Anne used to talk with Helen, describing Anne's determination to immerse Helen in language "the way people talk into a baby's ears." Colón's gentle, light-hued watercolors create a feeling of quietness, their textured lines suggesting the tactile world of touch, motion and vibration that spoke most immediately to Helen. A dozen excellent photographs of Helen Keller as a child and young adult, four of them with Anne, grace the endpapers. The story of this remarkable pair does not grow old, and here is a charming way to learn it for the first time. (author's note; list of acknowledgments, print and online sources) (Picture book biography. 5-10)
From the Publisher
Starred Review, School Library Journal, September 2012:
“...What is breathtakingly shown here, through accurate, cross-hatched watercolor paintings; excerpts from Sullivan’s correspondence to her former teacher; and concise and poetic language, is the woman’s patience and belief in the intelligence of her student to grasp the concepts of language....elucidating the brilliant process of educating the deaf and blind pioneered by Annie Sullivan.”

Children's Literature - Laura Backman
From the moment the reader touches the book's dust jacket, which shows a watercolor of Helen and her teacher on the front and the raised braille alphabet embossed on the back, a special bond had begun. The inside covers show actual pictures of Helen and her beloved teacher, Annie. Watercolor paintings and excerpts from Sullivan's actual correspondences blend with poetic language to depict the relationship between Helen and her teacher, Annie Sullivan. Readers will learn about Annie's struggle with her angry, wild student and how slowly through perseverance and determination, Annie teaches Helen finger spelling, language, braille, and sentences so Annie can finally express herself. Thanks to Annie's teachings, Helen can connects with her family and the world around her. There is something to be discovered in every square inch of this title, from the dust jacket to the inside flaps, to the author's note, to further readings. This beautifully illustrated picture book biography tells the story of two inspiring women. Reviewer: Laura Backman
School Library Journal
Gr 2–5—In this lucid picture book, readers follow Annie Sullivan's journey to teach young Helen Keller, at age seven, noted for her tantrums. Most know that Sullivan used the manual alphabet to fingerspell in the child's hand, but what is breathtakingly shown here, through accurate, cross-hatched watercolor paintings; excerpts from Sullivan's correspondence to her former teacher; and concise and poetic language, is the woman's patience and belief in the intelligence of her student to grasp the concepts of language. The first epiphany was at the outdoor pump when the girl comprehended that w-a-t-e-r was a word. "Now Helen began to devour words." Sullivan, then moved beyond names for things, "spoke" to Keller constantly and naturally, spelling rich, wonderful sentences into her palm, "like a mother to a child." Helen quickly started learning written language: letters, words, and with word flashcards, sentences. Sensitively wrought illustrations clearly depict her learning written English via raised letters. Most transcendent of all is a full-page copy of Helen's first letter home. The endpapers offer a dozen photos of the pair, and an embossed Braille alphabet adorns the back cover. While there is some fictionalization, it resides most firmly in fact, elucidating the brilliant process of educating the deaf and blind pioneered by Annie Sullivan. Pair this book with Emily Arnold McCully's My Heart Glow (Hyperion, 2008), the story of one of Helen's predecessors, Alice Cogswell, and her teacher Thomas Gallaudet, whose relationship resulted in the birth of American Sign Language for teaching the Deaf.—Sara Lissa Paulson, American Sign Language and English Lower School, New York City

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780375857065
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
09/11/2012
Pages:
48
Sales rank:
618,606
Product dimensions:
9.20(w) x 11.20(h) x 0.50(d)
Lexile:
940L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Starred Review, School Library Journal, September 2012:
“...What is breathtakingly shown here, through accurate, cross-hatched watercolor paintings; excerpts from Sullivan’s correspondence to her former teacher; and concise and poetic language, is the woman’s patience and belief in the intelligence of her student to grasp the concepts of language....elucidating the brilliant process of educating the deaf and blind pioneered by Annie Sullivan.”

Meet the Author

DEBORAH HOPKINSON is the author, most recently, of A Boy Called Dickens. She has written numerous other books, including Sky Boys: How They Built the Empire State Building, an ALA Notable Book and a Boston Globe­-Horn Book Honor Book; Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek, an ALA Notable Book and a Junior Library Guild Selection; and the ALA Notable Apples to Oregon. Her many other acclaimed titles include Under the Quilt of Night and Fannie in the Kitchen.

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