A Venetian glassmaker’s daughter resists attempts to cheer her up.
Daniela, the fair-skinned daughter of a prominent glassmaker in 16th-century Venice, is melancholy. Her concerned father offers the reward of a glass palace to the first person who can make Daniela smile. Many try, and here the narrative amiably bounces along: “Glove makers, tart bakers, trumpet players, dragon slayers” try their best, but Daniela remains glum. Enter Angelo, a fair-skinned young glassmaker who fashions a looking glass—something Daniela has never before encountered. He presents it to her, and as she looks into it, she sees a frowning face. She smiles, and the mirror smiles, then she laughs and the mirror laughs. Soon all of Venice is laughing along with Daniela’s laugh. Hofmeyr’s narrative conforms to the familiar, rescue-the-princess fairy-tale theme, but the addition of the looking glass lends it originality, and its ultimate message, that happiness lies within, is empowering if overt. An introductory note conveys information about historic Venetian glassmaking and the popularity of wearing decorative masks in Venice—facts that add considerable interest. Ray’s luxuriant-looking, well-designed illustrations in gouache, watercolor, and ink evoke a lush, multiracial Venice.
Rich illustrations, a familiar fairy-tale structure, and an upbeat message make this story a visually attractive, comfortable read. (Picture book. 4-8)