Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In Helen Keller, Eileen Bigland relates the story of the extraordinary deaf and blind woman who, with aid from a dedicated teacher, learned to overcome her disabilities. Presenting the story of Keller’s entire life, from her birth in 1880 to her death in 1968 at the age of eighty-eight, Bigland’s work is comprised of twelve chapters organized chronologically and accompanied by rather pedestrian black-and-white pen drawings. Aside from brief allusions to two biographies of Keller, and one of teacher Anne Sullivan, there is no bibliography and, unfortunately, no index.

Victimized by an undiagnosed illness, Keller lost her sight and hearing when she was almost two years old. An exceptionally bright and active child, she was frustrated by her inability to communicate and by her subsequent isolation. As a consequence, she experienced severe, increasingly frequent eruptions of bad temper. Unable to control her destructive behavior, Keller’s parents sought professional help for their strong-minded seven-year-old daughter. Members of an old, pedigreed Southern family, they fortunately were able to afford a private education for Keller and to seek other advantages for her. Thus, her family made the fateful decision to invite a young woman, Sullivan, to live with them as Keller’s private teacher.

Herself nearly unable to see, Sullivan was graduated from Boston’s famed Perkins Institution for the Blind, where she had learned sign...

(The entire section is 477 words.)