Yeah, yeah, so I'm like 2 years behind on this one. Blame it on life. It's been sitting on my shelf since the Cybils LAST year and I just never was able to get to it, though I often looked longingly at the cover, touching the Braille written on the front, and wondering when Annie Sullivan and I would get some time together. Well, it happened yesterday and I was just delighted.
Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller, written by Sarah Miller, is a lovely telling of Annie Sullivan's work with the infamous Helen Keller. Beginning with Sullivan's train ride to the Keller home, worrying about what her life would be like teaching a child that could neither see nor hear, all while being almost blind herself. The reader soon gets an inside glimpse into the exhausting, painful road that was taken to teach Helen that there is such thing as language and that communication must be learned in order to survive and lead a healthy, productive life.
Miller's descriptions of the Keller family and their constant enabling of Helen's bad behavior was based on facts I didn't previously know, and Annie Sullivan's background at a blind school was beautifully rendered and emotion-drawing. The reader will feel for this woman, wondering how she possibly managed to stick it out as Helen's teacher without losing her sanity, all while, for the most part, keeping her composure.
I was thoroughly impressed with Sarah Miller's accounts of the relationship between Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller, appreciating the photos, afterword, and chronology found after the story completes. Beautifully written and definitely discussion worthy, Miss Spitfire would be great for a children's book club and/or class discussion.
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Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller
Middle Grade Fiction