Published September 1st 2015 by Dial Books
When Helen Keller was very young, she got a disease that made her deaf and blind. Suddenly, she couldn’t see or hear at all, and it was hard for her to communicate with anyone. But when she was six years old, she met someone who would change her life forever: her teacher Anne Sullivan. With Miss Sullivan’s help, Helen learned how to speak sign language and read Braille. Armed with the ability to express herself, Helen grew up to be come a social activist, leading the fight for people with disabilities and so many other causes.
Written by Brad Meltzer and illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos, Meltzer follows the structure of the previous books in the series, by introducing readers to Helen Keller, and the challenges that she experienced in her life as she coped with blindness throughout her life.
The book is illustrated in Eliopoulous's trademark style, with warm colors and cheerful figures that are reminiscent of Calvin and Hobbes. I loved the decision to maintain Helen's look throughout the book, which helped really reinforce the idea that: 1) this is a children's book aimed at young readers, and 2) the overall lesson that Helen's strength throughout her life, was influenced by her interactions with Annie Sullivan as a young child.
However, I really liked the book's message the most. Meltzer doesn't shy away from the idea that Helen's life was challenging - especially because she couldn't enjoy many of the things we take for granted, e.g. playing with the family dog - but also really emphasized that patience, understanding and willingness helped Annie work with Helen, to make the breakthroughts that would change Helen's life.
Helen's an inspirational individual, and a reminder to readers both young and old, that there's nothing that you can't conquer, if you put your mind to it.
Bottom line: I recommend this for young readers everywhere. Additionally, I feel that this story would be an excellent selection for young children in group story time or the younger grades of school. Its message of always believing in oneself, and letting others believe in you, is a great one.
About the author & illustrator:
Brad Meltzer is a #1 New York Times bestselling author of adult thrillers (including The Inner Circle and its sequel, The Fifth Assasin). His two nonfiction gift books, Heroes for My Son and Heroes for My Daughter, were New York Times Bestsellers as well, and he has won the prestigious Eisner Award for his comic book work, Justice League of America. Brad is also the host of the History Channel TV show Brad Meltzer’s Decoded. He lives in Florida with his wife and their three children.
Christopher Eliopoulos began his illustration career as a letterer for Marvel, and has worked on literally thousands of comics. But along with that, he is also the author/artist of many comics, including the popular series Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers and Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius, for which he was nominated for multiple Eisner Awards and received a Harvey Award. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and their identical twin sons.