Helen Keller: From Tragedy to Triumph (The Childhood of Famous Americans Series)

by Katharine Wilkie

Paperback, 1986



Local notes

921 KEL



Aladdin (1986), Edition: 1st Aladdin Books ed, 192 pages


A biography, focusing on the childhood years, of the blind and deaf woman who overcame her handicaps with the help of her teacher, Annie Sullivan.

Original language


Physical description

192 p.; 5.31 inches


0020419805 / 9780020419808



User reviews

LibraryThing member jamie_tow
This book covers Helen's life from her precocious baby hood wherein she greeted people with "how d'ye" and "tea, tea, tea" to her impressive adulthood as a crusader for persons who are blind. Helen became blind and deaf after extended, unidentified illness she suffered at 1 1/2 years old. Unable to see, hear, or speak, Helen communicated by a series of rudimentary signs and showed great precocity in learning to fold clothing and recognizing her own. She was unruly and given to fits to temper, which was understandable considering her lack of access to ready communication. When Helen met her now famous teacher, Annie Sullivan was hired to work with her. The redoubtable Ms. Sullivan taught Helen the manual alphabet and from her stellar progress at identifying familiar objects, taught her Braille as well. Helen's progress is nothing short of spectacular and she makes an impressive academic showing at the Perkins Institute for the Blind in Boston.

I liked the fact that this book did not dwell on that now tired scene at the water pump, when Helen learns after having "water" spelled onto her fingers that "all things have a name." Instead of gasping and losing speed after the now overworked water pump scene, this biography picks progress at Perkins and later as a Radcliffe Alumna. This book glosses over Helen's radical socialism during her adulthood and also glosses over the challenges she and Annie faced as they matured together.
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LibraryThing member Kgranit
I liked this book for a few reasons. For one, I think this book pushes readers to think about tough issues and broaden their perspectives. Everybody faces challenges and I think this book is a great example to show how someone overcame a big challenge. Since most students are not blind or deaf, this book puts into perspectives some difficulties people who are deaf and blind face. I also liked the characters in the story because they added different perspectives. For example, the main character, Helen, is blind and deaf which intrigues students to want to read about her and gain an insight about her life. Also, Helen’s teacher, Miss. Sullivan, adds interesting perspectives on life. For example, when she first meets Helen, she talks to her, but Helen’s father explains that Helen will not be able to understand what she is saying. Miss. Sullivan responded, “neither can a baby.” This is interesting because I had never thought about that before. When she said this, she was subtly saying that while Helen may not understand words at the time, like a baby, she will learn. The big message of Helen Keller: From Tragedy to Triumph is that with the help of others, you can overcome your biggest challenges. In the beginning of the story, many people were skeptical about Helen ever being able to communicate. But with the help of Miss. Sullivan, Helen was able to learn how to communicate with others.… (more)

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