Children's Literature - Donna Freedman
This is a fascinating and inspirational, but not saccharine, biography of a young man who changed the world for the blind. Newbery-winner Freedman has a deft touch with history, writing it as though it were just any other great story to be told. He uses evocative details to explain the blind child's experience of Paris, such as "the rumble of wheels and clicking of hooves as carriages rolled past on the cobblestone pavement" or "flags flapping in the breeze along the Champs-Elysees...the gay laughter and swish of silk as fashionable ladies strolled by...the rhythmic crunch of a soldier's boots." Kids will be particularly impressed by the students' quiet but unshakable rebellion at the Royal Institute for Blind Youth.
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
This is another superb biography for older readers. In only 80 pages, Louis' story touches our hearts as we discover his many talents: as a musician, as a student with a burning desire to read and write, and as a determined inventor who was convinced that he could devise a system that would enable the blind to read. His kindness and compassion for the boys at the school where he was both a student and later a teacher help us to understand his humanity. Because we see him so vividly, we are saddened by his death at age 43. This reads aloud beautifully.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6An extremely well-written and informative book that tells about Braille's life and the development of his alphabet system for the blind. Freedman's gift for making his subjects both accessible and intriguing comes through wonderfully in this book. Readers learn not only about Braille and his struggle to communicate through the written word once he lost his sight, but also how long it took for his revolutionary innovation to become universally accepted. They also become aware of how isolated the blind were before his invention. Finely detailed pencil drawings and diagrams appear throughout the readable narrative. An entertaining and fascinating look at a remarkable man.Melissa Hudak, North Suburban District Library, Roscoe, IL
This biography from Freedman (The Life and Death of Crazy Horse, 1996, etc.) tells the familiar, moving story of the determination of Louis Braille, who did "more than anyone in history to bring blind people into the mainstream of life."
Blinded at age three by a freak accident, Braille was sent to the Royal Institute for Blind Youth in Paris at the age of ten. His first lessons were in "embossing," where raised impressions were "read" by tracing their outlines with a finger. This slow, cumbersome process was sanctioned by the French government, but a retired artillery captain's speech on sonographya military code based on dots and dashes punched into strips of cardboardinspired Braille to develop his own system of dots based on the letters of the alphabet. Readers know the ending, but the somber story of this gifted, generous boy is a compelling one. Rigidly rendered black-and-white illustrations make the setting of the story real; useful diagrams of Braille's alphabet and the slate and stylus used to write are included. With warmth and care, Freedman deftly delineates a life.
From the Publisher
"An extremely well-written and informative book that tells about Braille's life and the development of his alphabet system for the blind. . . . An entertaining and fascinating look at a remarkable man." School Library Journal, Starred