Friday, October 28, 2016

PPBF: Six Dots: A Story of Louis Braille

Today's Perfect Picture Book review

Six Dots, by Jen Bryant and Boris Kulikov
Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille
Written by Jen Bryant
Illustrated by Boris Kulikov

 Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2016
Ages 4-8, 40 pp

Biography, Nonfiction, Disability, Invention

       On the day I was born, Papa announced me to the village: “Here is my son Loo-WEE!”
The neighbors came, clucking their tongues, whispering: “Too small. He won’t survive!”
Oh, but I did survive.
        I was a curious child, and my eyes studied everything: Maman’s gentle face. Lace draping my cradle. The smooth shape of a bread loaf on the table.

Six Dots introduces the reader to Louis Braille when he is little, working in his father's leather workshop. The story follows him through toddler-hood, the accident that took his eyesight, and through the trials of being blind in 19th century France. With perseverance, the young Braille assembles all the pieces which became the system of reading and writing for the visually impaired: the braille alphabet and books for the blind.

Back matter includes resources for further investigation, a French pronunciation guide, fascinating author’s notes and questions, plus the Braille alphabet.
Note: Even though the braille alphabet is printed  on the endpapers, I was extremely disappointed an actual sample of raised braille is not used anywhere in the book.

What I Love:
The story flowed from one scene to the next, and I was immediately drawn in. Bryant skillfully describes Louis's surroundings in a way that makes the reader feel what he is feeling. When you analyze the facts in this story, it amazes me that the author was able to build such a coherent, interesting narrative. Many of the facts are mundane. But the story is stronger for her use of these little things to highlight Braille's perseverance and his achievements.

I wasn't attracted to the cover, but once I opened the book, this illustrator's talents shine through. Once the main character loses his sight, Kulikov uses changes in style and color to depict the world Louis can't see. His layouts keep the pages turning. And his compositions give life to even the most static scenes.

1. This book has already been reviewed by PPBF reviewer, Beth Anderson in September. It was so inspiring, I wanted to post my own views and spread the word.

2. You'll find more about Louis Braille as well as other resources at the American Foundation for the Blind.

3. Publications like The Braille Monitor are available through the National Federation for the Blind, as well as access to news and assistance technology.

4. BrailleSC lists activities for the seeing classroom including games and sensory play, aimed at understanding blindness.

5. WonderBaby lists 10 Tips to teach yourself Braille in this excellent post.

6. You don't have to travel to France to visit the Braille Museum. Kentucky boasts the Museum of the American Printing House for the Blind. There you can tour the facilities, see their collection of antique Braille writers, or even use one of their take-home kits in your classroom.

7. Stuff of Genius has created a video of Louis Braille's life. (above)

8. Check out these and more Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Jarm
Reviewed by Beth

Reviewed by Joanne
Reviewed by Kirsten

Reviewed by Vivian
Reviewed by Joanna

Have you reviewed a Perfect Picture Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!

Perfect Picture Book Friday is on hold for Susanna Leonard Hill's Halloweensie Contest. Read all the chilling entries on her blog.

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