Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreno Played the Piano for President Lincoln
Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreno Played the Piano for President Lincoln

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Annotation: In soaring words and stunning illustrations, tells the story of Teresa Carreño, a child prodigy who played piano for Abraham Lincoln.
Catalog Number: #209855
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Atheneum
Copyright Date: 2019
Edition Date: 2019
Pages: 40
Availability: Available
New Title: Yes
ISBN: Publisher: 1-481-48740-X Perma-Bound: 0-7804-7609-3
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-481-48740-5 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-7609-7
Dewey: 921
Language: English
Reviews:
ALA Booklist
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.
Kirkus Reviews
Venezuelan pianist Teresa Carreño performs for President Abraham Lincoln amid a raging Civil War in Engle and López'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. Revolución in Venezuela soon drove an 8-year-old Teresa and her family to sail across the stormy sea to the United States, but the Carreño 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 López'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 López's vivid, colorful artwork elevates this story to heavenly heights.Like a concerto for the heart. (historical note) (Informational picture book. 4-6)
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
Venezuelan pianist Teresa Carreño performs for President Abraham Lincoln amid a raging Civil War in Engle and López'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. Revolución in Venezuela soon drove an 8-year-old Teresa and her family to sail across the stormy sea to the United States, but the Carreño 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 López'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 López's vivid, colorful artwork elevates this story to heavenly heights.Like a concerto for the heart. (historical note) (Informational picture book. 4-6)
Word Count: 880
Reading Level: 5.5
Interest Level: K-3
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.5 / points: 0.5 / quiz: 504357 / grade: Lower Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:11.9 / points:3.0 / quiz:Q77490
Lexile: NC1260L
Guided Reading Level: N

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?


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