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ANNA MARIA’S GIFT by Janice Shefelman


By Janice Shefelman (Author) , Robert Papp (Illustrator)

Age Range: 6 - 9

Pub Date: April 27th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-375-85881-9
Publisher: Random House

Shortly after her father’s death, Anna Maria is sent to study violin at the Pietà, an orphanage and music school for girls in Venice. She is welcomed by a new friend, Silvia, but victimized by a talented but jealous fellow violinist, Paolina. The composer Antonio Vivaldi teaches both girls, and they vie for the same solos. In a fit of jealousy, Paolina takes Anna Maria’s beloved violin—a last gift from her father—and drops it into a nearby Venetian canal. Anna Maria searches for her treasured instrument while Paolina pays for this act of passion. A fascinating view of 18th-century Venice with its vibrant music scene, this novel explores the powers of friendship and forgiveness. The simply told tale, with its direct plot and characterizations, is suited to younger readers than Pat Lowery Collins’s Hidden Voices (2009), with which it shares a setting. The secondary characters—the gondolier, the sisters of the Pietà and the wealthy merchant who ends up with Anna Maria’s violin—add much to this offering for independent readers who love history. Papp’s illustrations not seen. (Historical fiction. 6-9)