Monday, September 30, 2019

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

The only thing I love more than discovering children's books about remarkable Latinos is being able to share them on MommyMaestra.

A few months ago, author Margarita Engle shared news about her upcoming new book, Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln (aff link). I finally got my hands on a copy  this month. It. Is. Wonderful.

I had never heard of Teresa Carreño, the prodigy pianist from Venezuela who began playing the piano as a little girl and composing her own music by the time she was 6. Not only did she play for President Lincoln as noted in this lovely story, but apparently for the famous composers Rossini and Liszt, too!

In Dancing Hands, we learn about Teresa's love of music and how she developed her talent in her homeland of Venezuela. We also read about how she and her family were forced to flee to the United States when Venezuala erupted in a revolution...only to arrive in the middle of the U.S. Civil War. The story goes on to chronicle the events that led to her performing for President Lincoln and his family in the White House.

I quite simply love the inspirational story that is this book. And the illustrations! Really, all of Rafael López's work is outstanding. And Dancing Hands is no exception. His unique style is just vibrant and joyful. It's full of detail and transition.

This book isn't just for Hispanic Heritage Month, though I will certainly add it to my master list of book for celebrating this national observance. But it is an engaging story that should be read anytime and anywhere by everybody.

I think it is an especially wonderful read for little girls to motivate and inspire them to grab ahold of their talents and not let go.

I love this particular book so much that I created reading comprehension questions to go with it, also. Use them while reading with your child or students.


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