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Elena's Serenade (Americas Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature. Commended) Hardcover – March 1, 2004


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Elena's Serenade (Americas Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature. Commended) + Frida (English Language Edition)
Price for both: $27.90

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  • Frida (English Language Edition) $13.35

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 3 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 2
  • Lexile Measure: 780L (What's this?)
  • Series: Americas Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature. Commended
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers; 1st edition (March 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689849087
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689849084
  • Product Dimensions: 11.3 x 11.4 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #103,532 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A delightfully fresh take on the "anything you can do, I can do better" theme, Elena's Serenade follows a feisty little Mexican girl on a quest to prove to her father--and herself--that she can be a glassblower, even if she is a girl. Magic realism abounds as Elena journeys (dressed as a boy) to Monterrey to learn from the great glassblowers. Along the way she meets a burro, a roadrunner, and a coyote, helping each of them accomplish their goals as she blows tunes through her father's cast-off glassblowing pipe. Arriving in Monterrey, our little "muchacho" is mocked at first, but soon silences her detractors (who continue to think she's a boy) when she creates beautiful glass stars through her pipe. If only her Papa could see what she can do! Perhaps if she blows a giant bird (golondrina), she can fly home.

A lovely story penned by Campbell Geeslin, with lyrical acrylic and crayon art by the illustrator of Jonah Winter's Frida, Ana Juan. Readers will revel in the whole experience--words, pictures, message, and all. (Ages 4 to 8) --Emilie Coulter

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 4--In this story set in Mexico, a young girl longingly watches her papa blow into a pipe to create bottles, and dreams about doing the same. Papa disapproves, with comments about her size and gender. Hurt and angry, Elena takes her brother's advice and, disguised as a boy, begins a journey to Monterrey, home of the great glassblowers. Stopping to rest along the way, she pulls out her pipe to blow and is surprised when a melodious sound emerges. Her beautiful notes give lost and lonely Burro comfort, help hopeless Roadrunner to move faster, and allow shrill-sounding Coyote to make sweet melodies. With newly acquired confidence in her abilities, the girl finally reaches Monterrey. Although the men laugh at her, she closes her eyes and plays "Estrellita" while blowing a star out of glass. Desperate to share her talent with her father, Elena blows out a giant bird and flies home, and Papa soon realizes how special she is. The story flows well and Spanish words are smoothly incorporated into the text. The alluring acrylic-and-crayon illustrations have a stylized folk-art quality that helps to set the stage for the tale. Juan uses striking color combinations and shifting perspective to keep attention focused on the child and her changing emotions. The final images of Elena, complete with smiling face and flowing hair, reveal her blossoming identity along with her talents. A fascinating adventure that explores issues of gender roles, self-confidence, and the workings of an artist's heart.--Tracy Bell, Durham Public Schools, NC
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Very cute story and gorgeous illustrations.
Jessica Johnson
We checked it out at the library and this is the only book that my daughter wanted to read.
Tonja Linson
My 3 3/4 year old daughter loves the book and so do I!
Kir Mom

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By E. Attig on September 2, 2004
Format: Hardcover
We picked this up at the library because I loved the illustrations and could not be happier that we did! It takes a feminist theme (that appealed greatly to my two boys)along with liberal amounts of Spanish language (glossary included) and weaves them into a magical story, complete with talking animals and fanciful glass creations. The illustrations are perfect (my three year old found them quite funny)and the prose is lilting and quite satisfying to read out loud. It incorporates so many wonderful themes---a multicultural outlook, empowerment of girls, magical happenings,the journey while disguised, etc.--that it should become a classic in schools and homes everywhere. "Bravo!"
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Tonja Linson on August 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book is so wonderful. We checked it out at the library and this is the only book that my daughter wanted to read. It deals with the misconception that girls can't do the same things as boys and be good at it. It showed her that she can do anything that she puts her mind to and she may even be better than boys are.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By S. House on December 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book has wonderful drawings and an imaginative story--very much in line with South American magical realism. My son loved it dubbed himself coyote (one of the characters) for two months.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Edward T. Schmid on June 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Our family absolutely loves this book.

My daughter Ailia (age 4) enjoys the story, illustrations and wonderful colors in this book.

It is a fairly quick read, but not too short, a great one for bedtime.

and for us glassblowers... it simply warms the heart,

signed,

Edward T. Schmid

author of "Beginning Glassblowing" and "Advanced Glassworking Techniques"-(also available through Amazon.com or at: glassmtn.com)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Carol H. Sibley on June 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Elena's Serenade is the first book to receive the Comstock Book Award for the year's best picture book to read aloud to older children, ages eight to twelve.

Young Elena leaves her home to embark on a magical journey to Monterrey, Mexico in order to follow her dream of learning the art of glassblowing. Later, she returns home to her father, who had refused to teach her his trade because no one had ever "heard of a girl glassblower." This story celebrates Elena's uniqueness as an artist and a person, as well as the importance of pursuing a dream.

With acrylic and crayons, Juan has created luminous paintings with an expressionistic, folk-art quality and a palette of desert colors. Juan's use of light is particularly noteworthy, especially in the illustrations depicting glassblowing. The rounded figure of Elena and her expressive facial features make her an attractive character. The colors, movement, and details of each painting invite one to linger over every page.

In selecting this book for the Award, the Read Aloud Committee noted the lyrical quality of the text, as well as children's special appreciation of the illustrations. In addition, children were interested in the conflict between Elena and her father and also enjoyed the sprinkling of Spanish words. Readers found the Spanish-English Glossary in the front of the book helpful.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on January 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I'll cut a book a whole swath of slack of it's beautifully illustrated. I'm not ashamed to admit it either. A story could be pedantic, repetitive, and dull and I'd still be gaga over it if the pictures were pretty enough. Now in the case of Campbell Geeslin's, "Elena's Serenade", I'm torn. The tale told here is actually rather interesting and well-written. Its heroine sets out on a kind of small picaresque quest and gains her heart's desire by the end. Now certainly the story is not the best written in the world. It drops certain plot points here and fails to offer any reason for other occurrences there. But it's a nice enough tale and when you take into consideration the overwhelming beauty of artist Ana Juan's illustrations.... well let's just say it's enough to salve over any nit-picking I might have. "Elena's Serenade" is beautiful and affecting without straining to please. If you don't love it, I can think of a hundred small schoolchildren who would.

Told in the first person, we see the world of Mexico through little Elena's eyes. The daughter of a glassblower, Elena's one dream is to someday learn the trade. Unfortunately, female glassblowers are entirely unheard of at this time and, anyway, Elena is too little. At the advice of her brother our heroine decides to disguise herself as a boy and travel all the way to Monterrey to study with the world's best glassblowers. Along the way she plays funny tunes on her glassblowing pipe and helps out a burro, a roadrunner, and a lovesick off-tune coyote. In Monterrey, Elena displays her new glassblowing via music technique. Suddenly she's creating stars with five points, butterflies that clink their delicate glass wings, and huge magnificent birds, one of which takes her back home.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A. Lundquist on April 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Elena's Serenade is about a little girl who travels to Monterrey, Mexico to become a glassblower. I did enjoy the story and especially the illustrations. My favorite illustration is of Elena dressed in her brother's clothes trying to look macho. I think kids will enjoy the bright sometimes humorous pictures, and the imaginative story.
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