Cover image for Dancing hands : how Teresa Carreño played the piano for President Lincoln
Title:
Dancing hands : how Teresa Carreño played the piano for President Lincoln
ISBN:
9781481487405
Edition:
1st ed.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 28 cm.
Added Author:
Summary:
As a little girl, Teresa Carreño loved to let her hands dance across the beautiful keys of the piano. If she felt sad, music cheered her up, and when she was happy, the piano helped her share that joy. Soon she was writing her own songs and performing in grand cathedrals. Then a revolution in Venezuela forced her family to flee to the United States. Teresa felt lonely in this unfamiliar place, where few of the people she met spoke Spanish. Worst of all, there was fighting in her new home, too -- the Civil War. Still, Teresa kept playing, and soon she grew famous as the talented Piano Girl who could play anything from a folk song to a sonata. So famous, in fact, that President Abraham Lincoln wanted her to play at the White House! Yet with the country torn apart by war, could Teresas music bring comfort to those who needed it most?
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Summary

Summary

Winner of the Pura Belpré Illustrator Award
A Kirkus Reviews Best Picture Book

In soaring words and stunning illustrations, Margarita Engle and Rafael López tell the story of Teresa Carreño, a child prodigy who played piano for Abraham Lincoln.

As a little girl, Teresa Carreño loved to let her hands dance across the beautiful keys of the piano. If she felt sad, music cheered her up, and when she was happy, the piano helped her share that joy. Soon she was writing her own songs and performing in grand cathedrals. Then a revolution in Venezuela forced her family to flee to the United States. Teresa felt lonely in this unfamiliar place, where few of the people she met spoke Spanish. Worst of all, there was fighting in her new home, too--the Civil War.

Still, Teresa kept playing, and soon she grew famous as the talented Piano Girl who could play anything from a folk song to a sonata. So famous, in fact, that President Abraham Lincoln wanted her to play at the White House! Yet with the country torn apart by war, could Teresa's music bring comfort to those who needed it most?


Author Notes

Margarita Engle is a Cuban-American poet and novelist. Her books include The Wild Book, Tropical Secrets, The Firefly Letters, The Lightning Dreamer, When You Wander, Mountain Dog, and Silver People. She has received several awards including the Jane Addams Children's Book Award, the Pura Belpré Award, the Américas Award, and the Claudia Lewis Poetry Award for The Surrender Tree and the Pura Belpré Award and the Américas Award for The Poet Slave of Cuba.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 2--Teresa Carreño achieved global fame as a performer, composer, pianist, and opera singer. By the age of six, she was composing. At the age of seven, she began performing. Revolution in Venezuela forced the Carreño family to migrate to New York, an unfamiliar place where few people spoke Spanish and her family felt out of place. But war would follow them--in 1863 the United States was in the midst of the Civil War. At the age of 10, Carreño was invited to play for President Abraham Lincoln and his family at the White House. But will a poorly tuned piano diminish her performance? This is a story of overcoming fear and using one's talents to spark joy despite unforeseen obstacles. Author and illustrator are well paired in this interesting narrative. Darks and lights, whether representing world events or the colors of the piano keys, are recurring themes that Engle cleverly entwines in her at times poetic writing. López's illustrations practically leap from the page as they mirror the tone of events--bright and beautiful when the story is light; dark, drab, and gray when echoing conflict. A historical note in the back matter provides slightly more insight, but Engle's writing occasionally seems to take liberties with individual characters' thoughts and emotions with little supporting evidence. VERDICT Despite the efficacy of the author and illustrator collaboration, the historical facts remain somewhat sketchy throughout the narrative. A gentle title to add cultural insight to any collection, though possibly best for larger budgets.--Rebecca Gueorguiev, New York Public Library


Publisher's Weekly Review

In the dark days of the Civil War, a girl named Teresa Carreño sat down at a badly tuned piano to play for a special audience: Abraham Lincoln and his family. This book tells the story of how a young refugee from Venezuela comforted the grieving president with her music. Music helps Carreño express her feelings and cope with her family's emigration to the U.S.--"Without a new piano, Teresa would have felt even more lonely.... Teresa practiced... her strong hands accepting the challenges of life's many dark and light moods." Her reputation as a prodigy leads to an invitation at the White House. Intimidated, she tries her best--"the memory of meeting past challenges now helped her fingers dance." López's swirling colors, soaring birds, and scattered notes conjure music's transportive powers amid the countries' war-torn landscapes, complementing Engle's text, and building "hymns... shimmered like hummingbirds." Ages 4--8. (Aug.)


Horn Book Review

Engle and Lpez (Drum Dream Girl, rev. 5/15) bring us another engaging story about a young, successful, female musician of Latinx descent. Teresa Carreo (18531917) learned to play piano early in life in Venezuela, her happy hands danc[ing] / across all the beautiful / dark and light keys. When the young musician was eight, her family members had to flee their war-torn country and move to New York. In this foreign city she became a well-known child prodigy. Her skill and status provided her with traveling opportunities and an extraordinary chance: to play at the White House for President Lincoln, who was still grieving the death of his young son. There she plays joyfully and with improvisation, knowing that her music / had brought comfort to a grieving family, / at least for one brief, wonderful evening / of dancing hands. Engles writing shines through powerful descriptions and connections between music and feelings. Lpezs vivid illustrations expertly alternate between lush, vibrant hues, and gray, muted depictions of darker times; they evoke characters and historical settings with absorbing detail. A brief historical note with more facts about Carreos life is appended. alicia k. long September/October 2019 p.110(c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Kirkus Review

Venezuelan pianist Teresa Carreo performs for President Abraham Lincoln amid a raging Civil War in Engle and Lpez's portrait of an artist.Thanks to parental encouragement, Teresita learned about "all the beautiful / dark and light keys / of a piano" at an early age. By the age of 6, she composed original songs. Revolucin in Venezuela soon drove an 8-year-old Teresa and her family to sail across the stormy sea to the United States, but the Carreo family arrived only to find another violent conflict"the horrible Civil War"in their adopted country. Despite the initial alienation that comes from being in an unfamiliar country, Teresita continued to improve and play "graceful waltzes and sonatas, / booming symphonies, and lively folk songs." The Piano Girl's reputation spread far, eventually garnering the attention of Lincoln, who invited the 10-year-old to perform at the White House! Yet the Civil War festered on, tormenting Teresita, who wished to alleviate the president's burdens for at least one night. "How could music soothe / so much trouble?" Half biographical sketch, half wide-eyed tribute, Engle and Lpez's collaboration endearingly builds to Teresa's fateful meeting with Lincoln like a gravitational pull, with bursts of compassion and admiration for both artist and public servant. Engle's free verse whirls and twirls, playful and vivacious, while Lpez's vivid, colorful artwork elevates this story to heavenly heights. Like a concerto for the heart. (historical note) (Informational picture book. 4-6) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

Engle and López pair up again to bring equality to the arts in this picture-book biography of pianist and composer Teresa Carreño. More detailed than their Pura Belpré Honor Book, Drum Dream Girl (2015), the lyrical, imagery-rich text alternates between prose and free verse as it describes Teresa's early childhood in Venezuela in the mid-1800s. When a revolution tears through the country, the young prodigy and her family move to New York, where she feels like an oddity and where a civil war also wreaks havoc. Concerts around the world, however, spare the newly proclaimed Piano Girl from much of this pain. An invitation from the White House to play for the grieving President Lincoln and his family almost turns disastrous due to a poorly tuned piano, but Teresa's perseverance saves the evening in the story's climax. Patterned mixed-media illustrations use color to evoke the lushness of Venezuela, the darkness of war, and the beauty of music. Concluding with a historical note, the biography's vibrant images and language form a melodious composition.--Angela Leeper Copyright 2019 Booklist