Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille

The revolutionary invention of the Braille alphabet brought the joy, knowledge and power of literacy to blind people everywhere. A clever, highly motivated blind boy named Louis Braille developed this "six-dot," domino-based lettering system in the 1800s at Paris's Royal Institute for Blind Youth by simplifying a military code.

In this vivacious picture-book biography by Jen Bryant (author of A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams and The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus), readers will be floored by the sheer tenacity of Louis Braille, who was blinded when he was five years old in Coupvray, France. Louis's father, a leatherworker, was always telling his son not to touch his sharp tools ("N'y touche pas!") but the awl proved irresistible and, tragically, it slipped. When the world went dark for Louis, he felt held back from life like a tightly chained dog. This frightening, suddenly dangerous world is expressively illustrated in inky blackboard spreads with whisper-like chalk outlines of people and places once familiar to Louis. With depth and warmth, Boris Kulikov (illustrator of Papa's Mechanical Fish and of Kate Banks's Max books) expertly captures the boy's emotional journey, the small-town French 19th-century community that rallies around him and the evolution of Braille itself.

While there are no actual Braille bumps in Six Dots, the full alphabet is represented, and a question-and-answer section about Braille then and now is as fascinating as the illustrated story. Louis Braille's fire within blazed a trail for millions, and Bryant and Kulikov fan the flames of this inspiring story with skill, style and heart. --Karin Snelson, children's & YA editor, Shelf Awareness

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