Future Reflections Jan/ Feb/March 1985, Vol. 4 No. 1

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LITERATURE REVIEW

A CANE IN HER HAND

by Ada B. Litchfield
Pictures by Eleanor Mill
Chicago: Albert Whitman & Company, 1977

(Review by Doris M. Willoughby)

This book is especially helpful in showing the value of cane travel for persons with some useful sight.

Vocabulary is about second- or third-grade reading level, but the story is so well-written as to be interesting to older youngsters, and it could of course be read aloud to younger children. The central character appears to be about nine years old.

Valerie had had impaired vision for some time, but always had been able to find her way around easily. Suddenly things were different -- she ran into doors and tripped over rocks.

She worried about her inability to see things, but protested "I'm not blind!" However, one day Miss Sousa, who had been coming to Val's school to show her new ways of doing things, produced a long white cane. Although shocked at first, Val soon came to understand why, as shown in the following quote. Note that the story is told from Valerie's point of view:

"Oh, no! I shouted...I m not blind. I don't want it.

Miss Sousa didn't get mad. She said, "You know, Val, you're getting a lot of bumps lately. It's because you don't see some of the low things in your way. Your hands and arms don't reach far enough."

Well, that was true. It's no fun running into things.

Before long Val was again walking by herself in school and on the street. She learned that her friends could accept the cane as OK; that it is not a toy or a weapon; and that some people have very outmoded attitudes about blindness.

At the conclusion of the book Val lists some of her favorite activities -- swimming, painting, music, etc. She adds, "I wash dishes, too -- ugh!" If I had helped to write this book, I would have had her traveling in the school hallway a good deal sooner, and I would have included Braille. However, actual cane travel is begun quite soon, and it is clearly shown that a cane is useful both indoors and outdoors. In regard to Braille, the question is actually left open: no one says she should not use Braille. One might assume that next week Miss Sousa will bring out a Braille instruction book and introduce it in her same friendly, matter-of-fact way.

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