Helen's Big World: The Life of Helen Keller

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This picturebook biography is an excellent and accessible introduction for young readers to learn about one of the world's most influential luminaries. With her signature style of prose laced with stirring quotes, Doreen Rappaport brings to life Helen Keller's poignant narrative. Acclaimed illustrator Matt Tavares beautifully captures the dynamism and verve of Helen Keller's life and legacy, making Helen's Big World an unforgettable portrait of a woman whose vision for innovation and progress changed America-and ...
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This picturebook biography is an excellent and accessible introduction for young readers to learn about one of the world's most influential luminaries. With her signature style of prose laced with stirring quotes, Doreen Rappaport brings to life Helen Keller's poignant narrative. Acclaimed illustrator Matt Tavares beautifully captures the dynamism and verve of Helen Keller's life and legacy, making Helen's Big World an unforgettable portrait of a woman whose vision for innovation and progress changed America-and the world-forever.
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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review
This magnificent account immerses young readers in the dark lows and subsequent highs of Keller's story. Rappaport's text…is perfectly attuned to the mind of a child. Tavares's paintings are steeped in emotion…
—Pamela Paul
Publishers Weekly
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.)
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4—In a format similar to Martin's Big Words (Hyperion, 2001), Rappaport uses quotations from Helen Keller to provide the framework for this picture-book biography. A great design, incorporating the words in large type, makes this book visually striking. Large scale paintings, rendered in watercolor, pencil, and gouache, are presented on one and a half or double pages. The full images, without borders, invite children into Helen's world, while showing how big it truly became. The opening endpaper showcases the pivotal "water" moment, with teacher Annie Sullivan's and the child's hands accompanied by the quotation, "We do not think with eyes and ears, and our capacity for thought is not measured by five senses." The narrative begins at Keller's childhood home, but expands out to describe her experiences at college, with public speaking, and in championing social causes. A series of excerpts from letters demonstrates her growing proficiency in writing. A dramatic spread shows the pupil and teacher in a boat, majestically cresting a wave, emphasizing what the youngster does experience more than what she does not. While there are many books available about Helen Keller for this age group, this title offers a unique and beautiful perspective on her life.—Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA
Kirkus Reviews
Helen Keller's transcendent leap across the barriers of her blindness and deafness continues to inspire. Rappaport recounts the well-known events of Helen's childhood—the illness that left her blind and deaf as a toddler, her wild willfulness and the advent of Annie Sullivan's companionship and tutelage with liberating results. The wide and tall trim size of this work allows Tavares' full, close-up, edge-to-edge paintings to bring readers into the story and helps convey Helen's passion, energy and delight as she defeats her limitations. Generous white space given to the text and the large font for Helen's own words in every spread invites readers to come close to the subject, to understand Helen's thrill at learning about the world and to taste some of her intense purpose and passion. What Rappaport adds to the familiar story about Keller is that this determined woman was never inclined to be pigeonholed. Keller continued to hunger after information, to learn about the world and to talk about it: "She spoke against war…and for the right of women to vote and for justice for black Americans." Rappaport reveals that Keller had her critics, but once given a voice, she used it. There, one begins to realize, is the real story of Keller's impressive life. A magisterial account. (author's & illustrator's notes, timeline, sources) (Picture books/biography. 6-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786808908
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
  • Publication date: 10/16/2012
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 120,414
  • Age range: 6 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.30 (w) x 11.10 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Doreen Rappaport
Doreen Rappaport (www.doreenrappaport.com) has written numerous award-winning books for children, including: Freedom Ship and The School Is Not White, both illustrated by Curtis James; Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., illustrated by Bryan Collier, a Caldecott Honor Book, Coretta Scott King Honor Book, Orbis Pictus Honor Book, and a Jane Addams Children's Book Award winner; Abe's Honest Words: The Life of Abraham Lincoln, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, CCBC Best Book of the Year, and an IRA Teacher's Choice; Eleanor, Quiet No More, illustrated by Gary Kelly; and Jack's Path of Courage, illustrated by Matt Tavares. She lives and writes in upstate New York.

Matt Tavares (www.matttavares.com) is the illustrator of several books, including 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, Jack and the Beanstalk, written by E. Nesbit, Iron Hans: A Grimms' Fairy Tale, retold by Stephen Mitchell, Lady Liberty: A Biography, and Jack's Path of Courage, both written by Doreen Rappaport. His books have won several awards, including four Parents' Choice Gold Awards, a Parents' Choice Silver Honor, two Oppenheim Gold Seal Awards, and an International Reading Association Children's Book Award. His illustrations have been exhibited at the Museum of American Illustration at the Society of Illustrators, and at the Brandywine River Museum. Matt lives in Maine with his wife and two daughters.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 13, 2012

    The title says it all ¿Helen¿s Big World,¿which is rich, full of

    The title says it all “Helen’s Big World,”which is rich, full of life and not limited in any way. This is an excellent introduction for young readers to learn about this most remarkable woman. Doreen Rappaport beautifully captures the essence of this very inspirational child and woman, Helen Keller. It is written in prose with quotes from Helen woven into the story on every page. The book not only chronicles the story of Helen’s challenging and courageous life, but shows children how one can move beyond physical limitations, find their own gifts and change the world for the better. The book is large and Matt Tavares’ illustrations are bold, colorful, emotional and lively. The illustrator emphasizes what Helen can do. This book is a feast for the soul. Adults will also enjoy reading this treasure. I love that the book title is also printed in braille on the front cover.

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