Saturday, September 8, 2012

Kid Konnection: Annie and Helen

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week, I'm going to share with you a wonderful picture book about the relationship between Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller.

Summary: "What is breathtakingly shown here, through accurate, cross-hatched watercolor paintings; excerpts from Sullivan’s correspondence to her former teacher; and concise and poetic language, is the woman’s patience and belief in the intelligence of her student to grasp the concepts of language," praised School Library Journal in a starred review.

Author Deborah Hopkinson and illustrator Raul Colón present the story of Helen Keller in a fresh and original way that is perfect for young children. Focusing on the relationship between Helen and her teacher, Annie Sullivan, the book is interspersed with excerpts of Annie's letters home, written as she struggled with her angry, wild pupil. But slowly, with devotion and determination, Annie teaches Helen finger spelling and braille, letters, and sentences. As Helen comes to understand language and starts to communicate, she connects for the first time with her family and the world around her. The lyrical text and exquisite art will make this fascinating story a favorite with young readers. Children will also enjoy learning the Braille alphabet, which is embossed on the back cover of the jacket. -- Schwartz & Wade

As a child, I was fascinated with anything having to do with Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller! I read numerous biographies and wrote many reports about these two amazing women. So when I discovered that there is a new picture book called ANNIE AND HELEN by Deborah Hopkinson and Raul Colon which is aimed at four to eight year-olds, I didn't even hesitate a second before agreeing to review it.

ANNIE AND HELEN is a marvelous book and one that I can't wait to share with my son's class. School Library Journal has already given it a Starred Review, and I couldn't agree more. I adored everything about this book! From the way the information is presented to the gorgeous watercolor illustrations, this book is just about perfect. ANNIE AND HELEN is not only a great story about two strong women that kids will love, but it also teaches them about the various ways that Helen was able to learn to communicate -- through finger spelling and then braille.

I know I would have been fascinated by ANNIE AND HELEN as a child; however, as a mom, I am still blown away by this book. I haven't read any books about these two women recently, but I do think ANNIE AND HELEN presents their story in a special way. Not only does it give the basics about how they met and how Annie eventually broke through to Helen (who doesn't remember the scene at the water pump?), but it shows kids that perseverance pays off. Through lots of hard work and dedication (from Helen and Annie), Helen went from a frustrated child who wasn't able to express anything to a strong and smart woman who learned to communicate in a variety of ways and have a lasting effect on the world. Additionally, this book shows just how much a great teacher can make a difference in a young person's life!

It probably goes without saying that Annie and Helen's story is incredible as are the beautiful illustrations, but I also enjoyed the supplemental materials in this book. The author included excerpts from letters that Annie wrote to her friend explaining her work with Helen. In addition, the book include an embossed braille alphabet on the back cover. (I used to love trying to "feel" the letters when I was a kid!) The book includes some real life photographs of Helen and Annie on the inside covers as well as a copy of the first letter that Helen wrote home. All of these "extras" just made an already special book even more outstanding!

ANNIE AND HELEN is an incredible book that teaches children about two pretty amazing women. Highly recommended for home and classroom libraries!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a copy of this book.

Giveaway alert: I have a copy of ANNIE AND HELEN to share with one lucky reader. To enter, just fill out the form below before Friday, September 21st at 11:59 p.m. ET. I will randomly select and notify the winner the following day. This contest is open to those of you with U.S. addresses only. Good luck!
If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!


bermudaonion said...

I've always been fascinated with that story as well. Helen Keller was an extraordinary woman and so was Annie Sullivan. I imagine their story has inspired many people through the years. This book looks and sounds wonderful!

Beth F said...

I too have been fascinated by Helen Keller's story since I was a little girl. This book sounds fantastic.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

What Candace said! :--)

Laura at Library of Clean Reads said...

I was also fascinated by the story of Helen Keller and I have read numerous books on her as well as her own biography. I think my family would LOVE this book. Too bad the giveaway isn't open to Canadians. I will look for this book at my local book store and have my library order it.