Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Elena's Serenade by Campbell Geeslin

Summary: Elena's Serenade by Campbell Geeslin is a book about a young girl who one day asks her father to teach her how to be a glassblower like him. Her father responds by saying, "You are too little, Elenita, and the hot glass might burn you. Besides, who ever heard of a girl glassblower (p. 4)?" Her brother encourages her to follow her dreams and go to Monterrey, Mexico where the great glassblowers are. She takes this suggestion by dressing up like a boy and heads off to Monterrey. Throughout her journey she plays various Mexican songs through her pipe. Her songs help various different animals who are going through their own struggles. By the time she reaches Monterrey, she proves to herself to be a worthy glassblower and impresses all the great male glassblowers. She returns home and proves to her father that young girls like her can blow glass.

Reflection: This is book was a great book for several reasons. First, the illustrations by Ana Juan are beautiful. Second, the book is about gender issues. Elena's character is a great role model and example for young girls. She not only proves her father wrong, but she also displays courage and bravery when she journeys through the wilderness all by herself. In addition, she helps many animals along the way who voice their admiration to her. Finally, the book has many Spanish words and Mexican songs in it. The book provides English translations on the first page.
How would I use the book/Curriculum Units: This book is just a great book to read, because of the illustrations and story. This book could begin a discussion about gender issues, Mexican culture/experiences, stereotypes, Spanish vocabulary, Mexican songs, and glassblowing. I could also use this book to discuss literary elements such as plot, character development, conflict, point of view, etc.
Domains of Social Justice: 1) Self-love and acceptance- Children can learn about Mexican culture as well as female self-empowerment. Elena, a young Mexican girl, is a character who proves her capabilities to both her father and to herself. 2) Respect for Others: Children learn how one girl earned her respect by go against female stereotypes. 3) Exploring Issues of Social Justice: The main point of this book is to address issues of sexism. 4) Social Movements and Social Change: Children learn how Elena stood up for herself and proved to her father and others that she could be a great glassblower. 5) Taking Social Action: Students can begin to think about stereotypes and what they can actively do to change those stereotypes.

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