Helen Keller: The World in Her Heart

Overview

For Helen Keller, w-a-t-e-r was a cool, slippery splash. S-u-n was the warm afternoon glow coating her skin. L-i-l-y was a sweet-smelling petal, soft and delicate to her touch. After an illness left her blind and deaf, Helen relied on her senses of touch and smell to help compensate for her loss. And then she met her teacher, Annie Sullivan, who showed her a new way to give meaning to the world around her. But most of all, Annie gave Helen a special gift of love.

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Overview

For Helen Keller, w-a-t-e-r was a cool, slippery splash. S-u-n was the warm afternoon glow coating her skin. L-i-l-y was a sweet-smelling petal, soft and delicate to her touch. After an illness left her blind and deaf, Helen relied on her senses of touch and smell to help compensate for her loss. And then she met her teacher, Annie Sullivan, who showed her a new way to give meaning to the world around her. But most of all, Annie gave Helen a special gift of love.

With lyrical prose and richly illustrated paintings, virtuoso author-and-artist team Lesa Cline-Ransome and James Ransome share an inspiring story of a courageous young girl. This evocative portrait reminds us that there are many ways to experience the world through the senses—but the most important things in life are savored within the heart.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal

K-Gr 4

Keller's story has been told countless times, so Cline-Ransome wisely keeps her focus tight, showing the developing relationship between Keller and her teacher, Annie Sullivan. The story opens with the sensory sensations of Helen's world: the feel of the warm spring breeze, the smell of a baking cake. A brief flashback explains the illness that left her deaf and blind, and the subsequent lack of communication that rendered her a wild and unmanageable child. Then the narrative transitions back to the moment when Sullivan enters her life and expects something more from her: an ability to learn. Told from Helen's point of view, the book takes readers from her dislike of this demanding stranger who continuously traces shapes in her palm, to her revelatory moment by the water pump, and finally to the realization that "Teacher" loves her. The author has chosen evocative details from Keller's life (she could feel "the jostle of the bumps along the road, but she couldn't see where they were going"). Some projection of thoughts necessarily happens, particularly in portraying the pre-lingual Helen, but Cline-Ransome is able to match the spirit of Keller's autobiographical writings. James Ransome cites John Singer Sargent as his inspiration for his bright, handsome paintings. An excellent, accessible introduction to a fascinating woman.-Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, Carroll County Public Library, MD

Kirkus Reviews
Young Helen Keller cannot hear, see or speak, but she knows the scent of vanilla cake coming out of the oven, the feel of her mother's fancy silk dress and that the dog is tense because the horses are outside. A stranger arrives, one who traces shapes into her hand, each day, all the time. Helen finally connects these shapes with meaning, and spells "w-a-t-e-r" back to her teacher. She learns quickly, even telling the flowers apart by texture and scent, until she can spell, and define, the love that connects her to her teacher, Annie Sullivan. Ransome's sunlit colors and warm textures indoors and out make an excellent visual counterpoint to the rhythmic text, though too often they do not capture the young Keller's glowing beauty. More problematic from a nonfiction standpoint is the textual interpolation of Helen's thoughts as she puzzles out the world, but the device works well to evoke her shuttered-in world to sighted and hearing children. A nice introduction to a fascinating life for the very youngest of readers. (Picture book. 5-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060570743
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/1/2008
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 11.30 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Lesa Cline-Ransome and James Ransome have collaborated on several picture books, among them Young PelÉ: Soccer's First Star; Major Taylor: Champion Cyclist; Satchel Paige, a Bank Street College of Education's "Best Children's Book of the Year"; Quilt Alphabet; and Quilt Counting. James's illustrations have appeared in nearly fifty books for children, including The Creation, a Coretta Scott King Award Book; Uncle Jed's Barbershop, a Coretta Scott King Honor Book; This Is the Dream; and A Pride of African Tales, an NCSS/CBC Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies. His traveling exhibit "Visual Stories" has been touring the United States since 2003. Lesa and James live in Rhinebeck, New York, with their four children.

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