Kirkus Reviews QR Code
ELENA’S SERENADE by Campbell Geeslin Kirkus Star


by Campbell Geeslin & illustrated by Ana Juan

Age Range: 7 - 9

Pub Date: March 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-689-84908-7
Publisher: Anne Schwartz/Atheneum

Here, Juan surpasses even her magical, atmospheric art for Jonah Winter’s Frida (2002). Indignant at her father’s announcement that girls can’t be glassblowers, Elena disguises herself as a boy and sets off to prove her worth in Monterrey, Mexico’s glass capital. Elena relates her tale with spirit (and a sprinkling of Spanish): after traveling across the desert beneath el sol and la luna grande, learning to play folk music on an old blower’s pipe, teaching a coyote to sing “Cielito Lindo,” and other marvels, she silences skeptics in a Monterrey glass-blowing factory by blowing stars, then creates a crystal swallow to carry her back to papa. A stubby figure beneath a huge floppy hat and a flyaway brown mane, the young narrator gazes up at viewers with radiant self-confidence, as around and behind her gather scenes and symbols from Mexican and folk art. A vibrant cultural evocation, as well as a gender-role challenger along the lines of Mayra L. Dole’s Drum, Chavi, Drum! (2003). (Picture book. 7-9)