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.