My Name Is Helen Keller

Albert Whitman. Oct. 2020. 32p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780807553220.
PreS-Gr 3–This picture book biography spotlights Helen Keller. The text relies on several biographies and incorporates Keller’s writing; her own words are featured in italics throughout the narrative. In this work primarily written in the first person with third-person narration interspersed for contextual clarification, Keller chronicles her life. She recalls the loss of her hearing and sight at the age of 19 months, the richness of her time with her teacher (presumably Anne Sullivan), and the accomplishments of her adult life. Uhlberg notes that little has been written about the 61 months Keller spent trying to express herself without sign or Braille. A quarter of the narrative delves into this time. The next half of the story focuses on Keller’s experiences learning to attach signs and words to sensations and experiences. A narrow train escape provides the dramatic climax of both her learning process and the story. Following the train incident, the text skips to 19-year-old Keller as a college student and then briefly covers her life as an adult. The lack of information about her adult years could leave some readers with questions. Throughout, Kocsmiersky’s impressionistic watercolor illustrations enrich the text. Extensive back matter includes an author’s note, a time line, and a manual sign alphabet.
VERDICT A well-intentioned, if uneven, portrait of the ever-fascinating Helen Keller.

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