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Miss Spitfire

Reaching Helen Keller



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About The Book

Annie Sullivan was little more than a half-blind orphan with a fiery tongue when she arrived at Ivy Green in 1887. Desperate for work, she’d taken on a seemingly impossible job—teaching a child who was deaf, blind, and as ferocious as any wild animal. But if anyone was a match for Helen Keller, it was the girl who’d been nicknamed Miss Spitfire. In her efforts to reach Helen’s mind, Annie lost teeth to the girl’s raging blows, but she never lost faith in her ability to triumph. Told in first person, Annie Sullivan’s past, her brazen determination, and her connection to the girl who would call her Teacher are vividly depicted in this powerful novel.

About The Author

photograph courtesy of the author

Sarah Miller began writing her first novel at 10 years old, and has spent half her life working in libraries and bookstores. She is the author of Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller, which was named an ALA Best Book for Young Adults and nominated for numerous state award lists. Sarah lives in Michigan with her family. Visit her online at

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Raves and Reviews

"This moving story—for all ages—is about how Anne an underprivileged young woman awoke Helen Keller, the most famous woman of her time, to life and learning. Miss Spitfire is high drama about how language unlocks the world.”
—Richard Peck, author of the Newbery Medal–winner A Year Down Yonder

* "Miller's accomplished debut imagines Annie Sullivan's first experiences with her famous pupil, Helen Keller… encouraging readers to think about the small miracles of connection they can accomplish with words every day."
--Booklist, starred review

"Details drawn from Annie's letters and Helen's autobiography are fleshed out engagingly in the first-person voice of Miller's imagined Annie, the young "spitfire" who overcomes obstacles no matter the power of the adults in her life."
--Kirkus Reviews

"Children encountering [Annie and Helen] for the first time will feel an overwhelming sense of wonder and delight when Annie helps Helen make a communication breakthrough. School Library Journal Readers will appreciate Annie's devotion to her pupil and how her tenacity makes a difference in the young girl's life."

"Miller brings history to life."

Awards and Honors

  • Booklist Editors' Choice
  • South Carolina Picture Book Award Nominee
  • ALA Best Books For Young Adults
  • William Allen White Children's Book Award Reading List (KS)
  • Emphasis on Reading Book Award (AL)
  • Virginia Readers' Choice Award List
  • Prairie Pasque Award Nominee (SD)
  • Jefferson Cup Award Honor Title (VA)

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More books from this author: Sarah Miller