Helen's Big World: The Life of Helen Keller, written by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by me, published by Disney-Hyperion, comes out today! This is my third collaboration with the amazing Doreen Rappaport, and I'm really proud to be a part of it.
Here's an excerpt from my illustrator's note, where I wrote about some of the challenges I faced in trying to visually capture the story of a person who could not see or hear:
Helen Keller never saw the ocean or heard the sound of crashing waves. But she could feel the exhilaration of jumping in the water. She could ride in a sailboat, and feel the fluttering in her stomach as the sea rose and fell. She could taste the salty ocean spray, and feel the cold water as it splashed on her face. I kept this in mind as I illustrated this book, and tried to make sure my pictures focused on all the things she could do, instead of the two things she couldn’t do.
It's always exciting (and a little bit nerve-wracking) when a book is finally done and people actually get to read it. Fortunately, the early response to Helen's Big World has been overwhelmingly positive (phew!). Here's a roundup of some of the great feedback the book has gotten so far:
"Tavares's illustrations for Helen's Big World are, per the title, big and bold and often in intense close-up. Stirring and awe-inspiring..."
*The Horn Book Magazine (starred review)
"A great design, incorporating the words in large type, makes this book visually striking.... The full images, without borders, invite children into Helen's world, while showing how big it truly became.... A dramatic spread shows the pupil and teacher in a boat, majestically cresting a wave, emphasizing what the youngster does experience more than what she does not. While there are many books available about Helen Keller for this age group, this title offers a unique and beautiful perspective on her life."
*School Library Journal (starred review)
"A magisterial account." -Kirkus Reviews
"Tavares’s illustrations evoke deep emotional response, incorporating large close ups and changing in color to reflect mood and tone. Particularly striking is his depiction on the front endpapers of the break through moment when Helen realizes her teacher, Annie Sullivan is providing her with words with which to express her experiences. Students reading this text cannot help but think about how they experience the world in which they live and offer their own words to communicate with those around them."
-The Classroom Bookshelf
Winner of a 2012 Oppenheim Platinum Award
Winner of a 2012 Oppenheim SNAP Award (for Special Needs Adaptable Products)
2012 ABC Best Books For Children
For more about Helen's Big World, you can visit Doreen Rappaport's brand new web site. And for some great ideas about how to use this book in the classroom, please check out this excellent blog post on The Classroom Bookshelf.
Find Helen's Big World at a bookstore near you, or any of the usual places online.
|"Dark and almost demonic, it conveys instantly both the catastrophic nature of Helen's disabilities and the steely will that raged to be unleashed." -Publisher's Weekly, describing this illustration from Helen's Big World|