Review of Helen’s Big World, by Doreen Rappaport and Matt Tavares

Helen’s Big World

The Life of Helen Keller

written by Doreen Rappaport
illustrated by Matt Tavares

Disney Hyperion Books, New York, 2012. 44 pages.
Starred Review

I expected to skim through this book and then turn it back in to the library. I already reviewed an excellent children’s biography of Helen Keller back when I was first starting Sonderbooks. But as soon as I opened the book, I knew this was something special.

Helen’s Big World is for a younger audience than Helen Keller: A Determined Life. It’s a picture book biography, and the pictures are oversize and magnificent.

The format is large and almost square, and each double-page spread features a painting. There is text on each page, but not a daunting amount, and with reasonably large print. Each page features a quotation from Helen Keller herself, talking about her life.

The story is familiar to adults. How Helen was struck blind at a young age, and Annie Sullivan came into her life and taught her and brought metaphorical light into her world. It goes on to show Helen, with Annie, learning about many different things.

I like the page with Annie at the bow of a boat with a wave breaking over it. The text on that page reads:

Annie took Helen
walking in the forest,
jumping in the salty ocean,
tobogganing down snowy hills,
bicycling in tandem,
and sailing in a boat.
And she spelled out each new experience.

The book goes on to tell about Helen’s work as an adult, writing and speaking across the country. The text stays simple, and the pictures show some of the different settings where she spoke and traveled. The book also includes a Manual Language Chart on the back cover.

A lovely first biography.

I’m posting this review today in honor of Nonfiction Monday, hosted today at A Wrung Sponge. Thanks, Andromeda!

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Source: This review is based on a library book from the Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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