International Rights

Hand in Hand

  • ISBN 9781443139236, Paperback
  • 128 Pages | Ages 7 to 10

Inspired by the real-life story of Helen Keller and the servant girl Martha Washington!

How did Helen Keller manage before Annie Sullivan came to teach her language? This fictionalized story of two very different girls in the South, two decades after the Civil War, builds on the mentions of Martha Washington in KellerÂ’s autobiography and reimagines their relationship.

Martha, Helen’s constant companion, is the cook’s daughter — a black girl, just a few years older, and the person who best understood Helen’s attempts at communication. Charged with keeping the unruly younger girl occupied and out of trouble, Martha is sometimes bullied, sometimes a co-conspirator, and often Helen’s rescuer. She is with Helen as Annie teaches her words and language, even on the miraculous day when Helen understands that the water running over one hand, and the word W-A-T-E-R that is being spelled into the other, are connected — the event that freed Helen to communicate with the wider world.

When Jean Little revisited Keller’s The Story of My Life, she became fascinated with the few mentions of Martha and wondered what it might have been like to be in Martha’s place and to be given the difficult task of minding Helen — a girl so different, in a position of privilege and yet dependent on her. Could the two girls forge a friendship? Jean Little’s fascination with that personal dynamic has evolved into a remarkable story of two girls navigating through the world, Hand in Hand.

Rights Sold

All rights available

Selling Points

• Jean writes underdog stories better, and more believably, than any other author!
• The idea of a story about Helen Keller, written by an author who is herself blind, will resonate with readers and booksellers alike.
• Unique perspective on the Helen Keller story by tying in her companion Martha, who was a servant girl and mostly unknown.
• Appealing black and white illustrations help convey the two little girls’ relationship with warmth and compassion.


  • Short-listed, Diamond Willow Award (Saskatchewan Young Readers' Choice), 2017