Thursday, July 21, 2016

Miss Spitfire by Sarah Miller

    • Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller by Sarah Miller
    • Published July 10, 2007
    • Other books by the author: The Lost Crown (the lives of the Russian Romanov daughters) and The Borden Murders: Lizzie Borden and the Trial of the Century (see my review here)

    • This is a book aimed at junior high age readers.
    • The story follows Annie Sullivan as she heads to Alabama for the fateful meeting and breakthrough teaching the deaf and blind Helen Keller. In other words, it's a version of "The Miracle Worker" made accessible (no pun intended) for a new generation.

    • First off, I was in a production of "The Miracle Worker" in 1979. I played a blind girl (but not THE blind girl). A group of us give Annie Sullivan a doll as a gift for Helen. 
      • My (ONLY) line was something like this: "We hear you're going where the sun is FIERCE."
      •  Look at me! As far as I know, this is the only picture of me from that production. I made all the pinafore aprons for the cast too! The two people in front are the actor who played Helen's father and our drama teacher taking curtain calls. The actress who played Helen is to the right holding the big bouquet. (Little blind girls with one line don't get diddly squat.)
    • Helen Keller died when I was 6 years old and the play and film of "The Miracle Worker" came out in 1959 and 1962, respectively. Both Anne Bancroft (who played Annie) and Patty Duke (who played Helen) were still very active performers until their deaths, Bancroft in 2005 and Duke this year.
      • The point is, Helen Keller was a real person to us growing up in the 1960s and 1970s. I'm not even sure my son, who's 23, even knows who she is, much less anything about Bancroft or Duke.
        • Yep, just quizzed him: he knew that Helen was deaf and blind but he hadn't a clue about anything else. Nor did he know who Bancroft and Duke were. (I think I need to tell him that Patty Duke's son was Sam in the "Lord of the Rings" movies.)
      • This book does a great job introducing a new audience to the lives of Annie and Helen and encourages those who are interested to learn more about them.