Today Caramel wanted to talk about Out of Darkness: The Story of Louis Braille, written by Russell Freedman and illustrated by Kate Kiesler. As usual Sprinkles is taking notes and asking questions.
Sprinkles: Caramel, tell me a bit about this book.
Caramel: This book is about the life of Louis Braille. Braille is the person who invented the Braille alphabet. The Braille alphabet is used by people who cannot see to read and write.
S: Did you know about him before reading the book?
C: No. I had heard of the Braille alphabet, and I thought it was probably invented by someone named Braille, but I did not know anything else about Braille.
S: So you learned about his life from this book. Tell us about him a bit.
C: Louis Braille was not born blind. He could see at some point but when he was four, one of his eyes got poked out and his other eye got infected and he lost both.
S: Yes, I read that part too. It is a sad accident that leads to the loss of one eye and the infection on the other eye. It is really sad.
C: Yes very sad. And also because the infection could probably be cured today.
S: Yes. It is possible. But he was living in the first half of the nineteenth century, and they did not have antibiotics or anything else to fight infections with.
C: Yes. They did use leeches for some medical purposes, which is weird.
S: Yes, I think so too. But apparently they still use leeches for some medical purposes!
C: I did not know that! That is so strange. I learn something new every day!
S: Tell me more about the book.
C: If you like biographies, you would probably like this book. It is about a young person doing some really big and important things. Like inventing an entirely new alphabet! And he was also blind!
S: Yes, but maybe being blind, he knew what would help him better than seeing people who assumed that everybody should use the same alphabet. In the book we learn that Louis as a student learns about a writing system devised by an army captain and then modifies it in novel ways that would make it practical and easy to learn and use.
C: Yes. The government and the school do not want to use his system at first.
S: Yes, first his school has a headmaster who likes his ideas but once he is replaced, the new director bans its use.
C: The students already had been using it, but the new headmaster bans it. So they still use it, but in secret.
S: Yes, it is a very interesting story, isn’t it?
C: Yes, it definitely is. But it is also very sad.
S: Why do you say that?
C: Because he works so hard to develop this alphabet, he works when everybody is sleeping. But then people do not want to use it.
S: But in the end things work out, don’t they?
C: Yes. But he also dies.
S: Yes, people do die, but you are right that his death is sad too.
C: He dies from tuberculosis, and we can cure it today, right?
S: Yes, that is true and it is indeed sad. But at least he knew his alphabet was being used and was much appreciated by then. So what three words would you use to describe this book?
C: Fascinating, biography, black-and-white illustrations.
S: Hmm, that is a few more words than three, but I’ll let it be. What do you want to tell our readers as we wrap up this review?
C: Stay tuned for more book bunny reviews!