________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 7. . . .October 21, 2016


Hand in Hand.

Jean Little. Illustrated by Norman Lanting.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2016.
124 pp., trade pbk. & html, $6.99 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4431-3923-6 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4431-4693-7 (html).

Subject Heading:
Keller, Helen, 1880-1968-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 4-10 / Ages 9-15.

Review by Janet Beauchamp.

**** /4



She remembered telling her mother that she and Helen could never really be friends, not when Helen could not see or hear her. It was not possible, she had said. But I was wrong, she thought. Maybe we’re friends right now. There was still a great space between them, of course. They could not speak to each other of their feelings. And they lived in different worlds. But this minute, they were hand in hand, and somehow equal in a way they had never been before. “Hand-in-hand friends,” Martha murmured. Still holding on, Helen sat up and smiled.


The novel Hand in Hand, by Jean Little, is a story based on the true-life relationship of Helen Keller and the daughter of the family cook, Martha Washington. It informs the reader about how Helen lost her sight and hearing to fever when she was quite young. Although I already knew the story of Helen Keller, this novel focuses on the connection between a privileged disabled white girl and her companion, an African American servant’s daughter. Their relationship is interesting, and the reader is compelled to follow along on their journey as they build a connection which eventually goes beyond being raised in the same place at the same time. The arrival of Miss Annie, a teacher who works with Helen to teach her the meaning of words, facilitates a deeper bond between Helen and Martha. The process of finger spelling brings more meaning to life for Helen. The reader can just imagine the enlightenment Helen must have experienced when she realized that all of the letters Miss Annie spelled into her hand made words and that those words had meaning. The reader is left wondering how Helen and Martha’s relationship blossomed from that point. Both my daughter and I truly enjoyed this story although we did feel that there were too many characters to sort out at the beginning of the book.

Highly Recommended.

Janet Beauchamp, a high school teacher, teacher-librarian, and mother of three girls, lives in L’Amable, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

Next Review | Table of Contents For This Issue - October 21, 2016
CM Home
| Back Issues | Search | CM Archive | Profiles Archive