Gr 4-8-This is a readable entry in yet another biography series from this publisher. Bryant covers her subject's whole life with special emphasis on the years he spent at the Royal Institute for Blind Youth in Paris. She makes it clear that Braille, who lost his sight as a young child, had an unusual upbringing for his time; his parents gave him a great deal of freedom and an education in order to prepare him to fend for himself as an adult. She recounts how he developed the braille system of reading and writing at the age of 15 and then had to fight for years to have it accepted. Generally, the book is written in a straightforward manner but, on occasion, the author presumes to know Braille's thoughts. Apart from this, the book is more scholarly than Margaret Davidson's Louis Braille (Scholastic, 1991) and includes numerous black-and-white drawings, reproductions, and historical photographs. It is a solid reference resource on the history of handicapping conditions as well as a biography of a man who overcame a challenge. Since there are a number of books about Braille available, purchase depends on the needs of specific libraries.-Margaret C. Howell, West Springfield Elementary School, VA
This informative biography provides appropriate historical background to present the scope of Braille's achievements. The horror of Braille's situation is immediate: he became blind during a time when loss of vision signified a diminishment of intelligence and the possibility of a life of poverty and abuse. But Bryant, drawing on both primary and secondary sources, also meticulously chronicles Braille's profound optimism, tenacity, and commitment to making the world more accessible for the blind. The selection and the placement of the period black-and-white photographs are superb, and the well-captioned illustrations are perfect for the straightforward writing. A well-detailed index, a chronology, and a brief bibliography are ideal for middle-grade readers, and a fine introduction by Muscular Dystrophy Association chairman Jerry Lewis and an upbeat foreword by quadriplegic cartoonist John Callahan make this insightful entry in the Great Achievers series more meaningful.