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Elena's Serenade: 09/27/10

cover art

Harriet and I are falling into a new routine where once or twice a week we stop by the library on the way home from her preschool. I pick up my hold books, she plays on the computer for a little bit and then she goes to the shelves and picks three or four picture books to bring home. Her methodology seems to involve picking a specific shelf and then pulling books off at random until she finds covers that tickle her fancy.

One a recent trip to the library Harriet picked the G section of the shelves. From there she found Elena's Serenade by Campbell Geeslin. It met with her approval based on the cover having a cute little girl wearing a pink skirt and a sun and a moon.

Elena's Serenade is more than just the story of a cute little girl. She is headstrong, determined and focused. Her father is a glassblower and she wants to be one too. He says no, first saying she's too little and will get hurt. When she persists he says girls can't be glassblowers.

Elena though doesn't let his reasons stop her from fulfilling her dream. On her brother's advice, she dresses as a boy, grabs a glassblowing tube and makes the long journey on foot to Monterrey Mexico where she can apprentice with the best glassblowers.

The book though isn't strictly about learning how to blow glass. It's more about the journey and how she grows as a person along the way. The story takes a magical realism turn as Elena makes her journey. She meets and helps animals and other forces of nature along the way and she learns how to play traditional Mexican songs on her glassblowing pipe. The experience helps her reap exceptional and magical affects from pipe when her apprenticeship begins.

So how did it play with Harriet? She liked the glassblowing and she liked the magical parts. The journey seemed a little long for her and I had to work hard to keep her attention in the middle part of the story. Although she talked about the book a little when we were done it didn't inspire her enough to request a re-read.

This book has recently been optioned. Done well, it could be an interesting film.

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