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StorySnoops Children's Book Reviews | Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller | Sarah Miller
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Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller
by Sarah Miller
PUBL. RECOMMENDED AGE: 10-12
LEXILE READING LEVEL: 890L {what is this?}
PUBLISHER: Atheneum
YEAR PUBLISHED: 2007
NO. PAGES: 240
GENRE{S}: Historical Fiction
MAIN CHARACTER GENDER: Female
AWARD{S}:
YALSA Best Books for Young Adults
ISBN: 1416925422
READ & REVIEWED BY: Eden - StorySnoop


The Story
Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller—Book Review

In 1887, Annie Sullivan was little more than a half-blind orphan herself, when she arrived to teach deaf and blind Helen Keller. She was desperate for work, and had no formal teacher training -- her only qualification being that she herself had been blind and her spitfire personality was a near match for the seemingly untamable Helen's. For Annie to reach Helen's mind, she would have to ward off physical attacks from her pupil, courageously stand up to her overindulgent family, and find a way to do what seemingly couldn't be done -- teach language to someone who had no way to know it even existed.
The Scoop
Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller—Book Review
{spoiler alert}

Miss Spitfire is a wonderful, age-appropriate book about determination and Annie Sullivan's desperate attempts to connect emotionally with her student. Young readers, who may or may not be familiar with Helen Keller's story, will be intrigued by Annie's seemingly impossible task, and by the basics of language development that she must work toward. Annie's own story is told in flashbacks throughout, and it is clear that her father was an abusive alcoholic who struck her on at least one occasion. Her younger brother (her only childhood companion) is described as sickly and died at a young age, while they lived in an "almshouse" -- a public home for the poor. Annie battles physically with Helen on several occasions, and battles with Helen's family over the indulgence that they show her, "because she has suffered so much already." Annie must make them realize that failing to set boundaries for Helen only makes her wild and unruly behavior worse -- a parallel to modern children's lives that just might be lost on all but adult readers! There is an interesting afterword by the author about Annie's life, including several photos of Annie and Helen.
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Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller—Book Review

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