World at Her Fingertips: The Story of Helen Keller

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Overview

Helen Kellers firsl nineleen months were much like those of any other child. But everything changed when she suffered a horrible fever that left her both blind and deaf. Most everyone knows about the difficulties Helen Keller faced. But not everyone is familiar with her many triumphs. Helen would not accept any setbacks. With the aid of her friend and teacher, Annie Sullivan, Helen graduated cum laude from Radcliffe and eventually became an influential lecturer and essayist. Her courage, intelligence, and ...
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Overview

Helen Kellers firsl nineleen months were much like those of any other child. But everything changed when she suffered a horrible fever that left her both blind and deaf. Most everyone knows about the difficulties Helen Keller faced. But not everyone is familiar with her many triumphs. Helen would not accept any setbacks. With the aid of her friend and teacher, Annie Sullivan, Helen graduated cum laude from Radcliffe and eventually became an influential lecturer and essayist. Her courage, intelligence, and fortitude are a testament to the strength of the human spirit. And the story of her life is an inspiration.
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Editorial Reviews

From The Critics
The author paints a comprehensive picture of Helen Keller with this fascinating biography. Readers will gain new perspective of the historical, political and cultural climate in which Ms. Keller lived and worked, along with an understanding of her relationships with those close to her. Besides enjoying the wealth of new information unearthed by the author, young readers may take comfort in the typically familiar vignettes of Ms. Keller's life. Notes from her own autobiography and descriptions of movie scenes form The Miracle Worker are woven throughout the story. With flowing narrative, the author offers insight into Helen Keller's determination to bridge the gap between two worlds. A couple of awkward moments, with which younger students may need transitioning help, almost disappear as the author skillfully personalizes Helen Keller's inspiring, productive life. Readers will come away with an appreciation of her childhood and of her adult role as a champion of human and civil rights. Genre: Biography 2001, Scholastic Press, 256 pp., $15.95. Ages 12 up. Reviewer: Kristen Sternberg; Deland, Florida
Children's Literature
Everyone marvels at the story of Helen Keller¾when she finally understood the word w-a-t-e-r as it was spelled into her hand by teacher Annie Sullivan. Less known is that Helen graduated from Radcliffe, was active in the Socialist party and traveled the world as a fundraiser and lecturer. Joan Dash writes of Helen's indomitable spirit and courage as an adult, confronting not only prejudices against people with disabilities but also accusations that she was being manipulated by her sighted friends and companions. Unfortunately, there is a stilted quality to the writing, especially when Dash refers to Annie Sullivan only as "Teacher," even in very personal passages. Annie's devotion to Helen is never questioned, but Dash repeatedly emphasizes her moodiness, her own disinterest in learning and the constant pressure she placed on Helen to achieve. There are gaps that young readers might wonder about—the numerous quotes from Helen's own writings refer more to her political and social beliefs, leaving questions about her more personal feelings. Helen's mother Kate seems to drop in and out of her daughter's adult life, and we learn almost nothing about Helen's relationship with her younger brother and sister. The whole family has disappeared by the end of the book. The World at Her Fingertips includes a bibliography and an index as well as numerous, interesting photographs, including a close-up of Helen writing on her specially constructed board and celebrating her 75th birthday. 2001, Scholastic Press, $15.95. Ages 12 to 15. Reviewer: Karen Leggett
VOYA
Years ago this reviewer marveled as a former student's fingers flew over Brailled Sophocles, Shakespeare, and Ellison. The clicking of her "Speak 'N Say" device grew as familiar as the hum of the ceiling fan. Allie scored well on the advanced placement test, outdistancing many sighted peers. These memories surfaced while reading Dash's biography. Allie embodied the spirit of Helen Keller, charging down corridors and reporting for the school newspaper—committed, relentless. Perhaps Allie's family too initially saw an isolated child—what Keller herself called Phantom. "Helplessly the family witnessed the baffled intelligence as Phantom's hands stretched out to feel the shapes which she could reach but which meant nothing to her." Dash's work takes readers beyond the inspiration of the classic Miracle Worker to Keller's accusations of plagiarism, academic challenges at Radcliffe, and friendships with Alexander Graham Bell, Eleanor Roosevelt, and of course, Annie Sullivan Macy. In general, Dash acknowledges use of Keller's letters, journals, and other materials housed at Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts, but she does not provide specific documentation or notes for each chapter. The bibliography is brief. Multiple photographs help readers visualize Keller, her time, and environments. The volume is detailed and engaging, and extensive use of Keller's own words lends authenticity. Photos. Biblio. VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2000, Scholastic, 225p, . Ages 12 to 15. Reviewer: Patti Sylvester SpencerSOURCE: VOYA, June 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 2)
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-In a smooth, readable narrative, the drama of Keller's life unfolds. Annie Sullivan's remarkable teaching efforts that allowed Helen to communicate with the world are riveting to read. Keller's later life is perhaps less well known to children familiar with the "Miracle Worker" story. Her struggles through high school and her acceptance to and graduation from Radcliffe, her social and political activism, her adult relationship with Annie and Annie's husband, John Macy, and the "love affair" with her secretary Peter Fagan are carefully described using passages from Keller's autobiographies. The use of primary-source material (although not footnoted) brings the subject's vibrant personality, intelligence, and sensitivity to life in a way no narrative alone could. It is amazing to read about the woman's travels, and her influence in changing world opinion about the treatment of the blind. Black-and-white photographs show different periods of her long lifetime, and enhance the drama of the text. A fine addition to any collection.-Jennifer Ralston, Harford County Public Library, Belcamp, MD Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Born in 1880 in a tiny backwater in Alabama, Helen Keller lived a life familiar to many from the play and movie The Miracle Worker, as well as countless biographies. There's no denying the drama in the story of the deaf and blind child for whom the world of language became possible through a dedicated and fanatically stubborn teacher, Annie Sullivan. But Helen's life after that is even more remarkable: she went to high school and then to Radcliffe; she was a radical political thinker and a member of the Wobblies; she supported herself by lecture tours and vaudeville excursions as well as through the kindness of many. Dash (The Longitude Prize, p. 1483) does a clear-sighted and absorbing job of examining Annie's prickly personality and the tender family that she, Helen, and Annie's husband John Macy formed. She touches on the family pressures that conspired to keep Helen from her own pursuit of love and marriage; she makes vivid not only Helen's brilliant and vibrant intelligence and personality, but the support of many people who loved her, cared for her, and served her. She also does not shrink from the describing the social and class divisions that kept some from crediting Annie Sullivan and others intent on making Helen into a puppet and no more. Riveting reading for students in need of inspiration, or who're overcoming disability or studying changing expectations for women. (Biography. 10-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402867118
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/1/1901
  • Pages: 224
  • Age range: 12 - 15 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.88 (w) x 8.56 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Table of Contents

1 Tuscumbia 1
2 Tewksbury 11
3 Teacher Arrives 18
4 Finger-Talk 29
5 Boston 41
6 The Frost King 51
7 New York 65
8 Cambridge 73
9 The Assault on Radcliffe 87
10 Inside the Ivor Tower 97
11 The Story of My Life 106
12 We Three 119
13 The Conversion 127
14 In the Thick of it 141
15 A Love Story 149
16 "Lights! Camera!" 159
17 On the Road Again 168
18 Another New Career 176
19 The Safe Future 190
20 Without Teacher 196
21 The End 209
Bibliography 223
Acknowledgments 225
Index 227
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