Seeing Lessons: The Story of Abigail Carter and America's First School for Blind People

Seeing Lessons: The Story of Abigail Carter and America's First School for Blind People

by Spring Hermann, Ib Ohlsson
     
 

In 1832, when Abigail Carter was only ten years old, two doctors from Boston invited her to be one of the first students in an experimental institution: a school for blind people. Abby and her younger sister Sophia, also blind, packed their bags and headed to the city. For the first time in their lives, the two girls were able to read a book for themselves and

Overview

In 1832, when Abigail Carter was only ten years old, two doctors from Boston invited her to be one of the first students in an experimental institution: a school for blind people. Abby and her younger sister Sophia, also blind, packed their bags and headed to the city. For the first time in their lives, the two girls were able to read a book for themselves and to write a letter to their father.

This small start-up school developed into the Perkins School for the Blind. From this school graduated Annie Sullivan, Helen Keller's influential teacher.

Readers who love Helen Keller's story won't want to miss this inspiring story of courage and perseverance.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Carolyn Mott Ford
An excellent book chronicling the adventures of Abby Carter, her sister Sophia and the school for the blind which was started by their teacher, Dr. Samuel Howe. The author clearly states in the preface that the story is based upon how these people lived and the history of the Perkins School for the Blind, while what they may actually have said or thought had to be imagined. While there may be arguments against such an approach, it allows the story to unfold like a novel. Abby is only ten and her sister six when they leave their parent's home to move to Boston and attend school. The idea of a school for the blind is a new one in America and, while the girls experience loneliness and fear along with hope, they and their teacher conquer almost insurmountable challenges. The two Carter children attended the school in the 1830s and the attitudes, social mores and customs provide an interesting backdrop for a fascinating, heartwarming story.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-Abigail Carter, 10, her sister Sophia, and their young brother Edward were born blind. Fortunately for them, Dr. Samuel Howe has committed his energy and vision to setting up the first school for the blind in America. After studying such institutions in Europe, Howe opens a trial school in his father's house in Boston, but must prove that this "radical idea" has merit before he can hope to procure public funds. The Carter girls are among his first six students. Abby's first-person narrative relates their excitement, anxiety, and homesickness, as well as their determination to do well. The experiment is a success, although the doctor has to rely on exhibiting his pupils in public performances to raise money. Abby is a bit smug about being one of the smartest students and feels that her creativity can save the school from financial failure. She is smitten with jealousy when her sister is chosen to model for a portrait to be auctioned off at a school benefit. The other students are not as fully developed as the Carter sisters, but the afterword notes that all six youngsters became active citizens. Hermann offers a good depiction of the 1830s and of the societal attitudes toward individuals with special needs. Girls hungry for historical fiction after reading "American Girls" books (Pleasant Co.) or interested in the early life of Helen Keller will enjoy this heady fictionalized biography.-Marilyn Payne Phillips, University City Public Library, MO
Kirkus Reviews
In a work of historical fictional, Abigail Carter narrates how she and her younger sister, Sophia, were the first students in the first school for blind children in America. Started by Dr. Samuel Howe, and run at first on a shoestring budget in the home of his reluctant parents, the school became—-through Howe's indomitable energy, courage, and diligence—-a model environment, proving to sighted people that the blind could be taught to read, write, and to become contributing citizens. Abby is a stalwart main character, whose persistent efforts to learn, as well as to help her timid sister, make her both admirable and human. Dr. Howe is painted in more heroic terms. Hermann focuses more on the politics of establishing the school than on the educational methods used, a choice that provides plenty of suspense. Letters, journals, and other primary and secondary source materials have been spun into a compelling narrative that will capture readers' imaginations, while Ohlsson's black-and-white sketches bring the personalities to the page. (Fiction. 8-12) .

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780805057065
Publisher:
Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication date:
10/28/1998
Pages:
208
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.69(d)
Lexile:
510L (what's this?)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Spring Hermann has written three other books for young readers. Ms. Hermann makes her home in West Hartford, Connecticut.

Ib Ohlsson has illustrated several books for children, including It Happened in America: True Stories from the Fifty States (Holt). He lives in Pelham Manor, New York.

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