In Mexico, where the sun is called el sol and the moon is called la luna, a little girl called Elena wants to blow into a long pipe…and make bottles appear, like magic. But girls can’t be glassblowers. Or can they?
Elena’s Serenade written by Campbell Gleeslin and Illustrated by Ana Juan tells the delightful story of a little girl named Elena who wants to be a glassblower just like her father. When her father turns her down she is “mad as a wet hen.” Following the suggestion of her brother, she decides to dress as a boy and run away to Monterrey, home of Mexico’s “great glassblowers” (She’ll show everyone!). Along the way she discovers that her glass blowing pipe can do more than make glass, it can make music! Her special songs help a burro find a friend, help a limping roadrunner find its stride, and transform a coyote’s cacophonous song into a sweet serenade.
When Elena finally reaches Monterrey the glassblowers find it entertaining that someone so short wants to be a glassblower, but they give her a chance. Not knowing what will happen, Elena bravely mimics her father’s actions and plays her music-creating stars, birds and butterflies with her glassblowing pipe. Her creations quickly sell faster than she can make them but Elena, dreaming of impressing her father, one night creates a swallow who takes her home to show her father what she can really do.
The magical realism of the story keeps it from being a heavy-handed girl power story turning it instead into a magical pursuit of your dreams. The sprinkling of Spanish phrases supports the rhythm of the story and provides an easily accessible peek into another culture.
If your dreams include a trip to Monterrey, stop by the Museo del Vidrio, filled with exhibits on the history of glassblowing with examples through modern times and demonstrations of glass blowing. There’s also the Alpha Arts Museum and Planetarium, the nearby Matacanes canyons, and puppet shows at Baul Teatro.