In my eyes, most biographies fall into one of two camps. There are biographies (such as the recent and outstanding Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow) that seek to tackle their subject from a unique angle. This is a technique that I am all in favor of – inventiveness is a good thing, yes? Then you have your biographies that set out to plainly and tastefully bring forth the extraordinary accomplishments of a person. In my opinion, this style can be just as difficult to pull off successfully. “Helen Keller: Her Life in Pictures” falls into the latter category. A richly visual work about a woman who triumphed despite being robbed of her hearing and sight.
The story of Helen Keller’s life is well known. Born in 1880 in Alabama, Keller lost her sense of sight and hearing as a two year old. With the help of her teacher, Annie Sullivan, Helen learned to communicate with others. In the words of the author,
“Helen Keller holds a special place among American heroes. No one else is quite like her. She could not hear. She could not see. When she spoke, she could barely be understood. Yet she learned to live and express her thoughts and feelings in a world of sight and sound.”
The book is subtitled “Her Life in Pictures” for very good reason. Nearly every page contains a photograph that provides additional insight into Keller’s life. The accompanying words are straightforward, allowing access to a wide range of readers. Well done all around. A quality nonfiction selection.
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