Helen's Big World

The Life of Helen Keller

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Disney Hyperion Books
(pub. 10.16.12)  48 pages 

A True Tale with A Cherry On Top

A uthor: Doreen Rappaport
     and Illustrator:  Matt Tavares

haracter: Helen Keller

O verview from the jacket flap: 

      "Blind, deaf, and unable to speak from toddlerhood, young Helen Keller lived in a dark, silent world. Despite her handicaps, Helen wanted to experience every part of life; with her passion for discovery and the help of an unrivaled teacher, Annie Sullivan, Helen found that knowledge would soon lead to freedom... And with knowledge and freedom came wisdom... And with her wisdom, Helen knew that she could change the world by speaking out against the injustices she witnessed...
       With her signature style of prose laced with stirring quotes, Doreen Rappaport brings to life Helen Keller's poignant narrative. Acclaimed illustrator Matt Tavares captures the dynamism and verve of Helen Keller's life and legacy, making Helen's Big World an unforgettable portrait of a woman whose vision for progress changed America - and the world - forever."
T antalizing taste: 

           "But some people questioned how Helen could describe things that she could not see or hear. They did not understand that she could smell lilacs and roses and feel the golden rays of the sun on her face and the soft, springy earth under her feet."
and something more:  In the Illustrator's Note, Matt Tavares explains the challenges of illustrating Helen's Big World: "[At first] I was overwhelmed by the challenge of trying to visually capture the story of a person who could not see or hear. It seemed impossible... I realized that maybe I was thinking about Helen Keller the wrong way. I was defining her by her deafness and blindness, but there was so much more to her story. Helen Keller never saw the ocean or heard the sound of crashing waves. But she could feel the exhilaration of jumping in the water. She could ride in a sailboat, and feel the fluttering in her stomach as the sea rose and fell. She could taste the salty ocean spray, and feel the cold water as it splashed on her face. I ... tried to make sure my pictures focused on all the things she could do ..." 
            Two of Matt Tavare's illustrations (one of which is the cover) echo Doreen Rappaport's text by showing Helen Keller, in profile as a young woman and then as an older woman, reveling in the smell of a rose "and feel [of] the golden rays of the sun on her face."  


Myra Garces-Bacsal from GatheringBooks said...

I think my ten year old daughter would enjoy this one. They have studied the life of Helen Keller in her school. I've been on the lookout for nicely-done biographies of Keller that won't overwhelm her yet would also give her a clear portrait of what Keller's life was like. I am a huge fan of Tavares and Rappaport, so I know that I'd love this one. Thanks for sharing!

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

Hi Myra, Yes, I think your daughter would like this book. And Doreen Rapport weaves in lots of great quotes by Helen Keller. Thanks for stopping by!