Gabriella's Song


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About the Author

Candace Fleming is the acclaimed author of numerous books for children, including the Bulldozer books; Ben Franklin’s Almanac, an ALA Notable Book and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, as well as Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!, and Sibert Medal honorees The Honeybee, and The Giant Squid. She lives in a suburb of Chicago.

Giselle Potter has illustrated many books, including Try It! by Mara Rockliff, All by Himself? by Elana K. Arnold, and Kate and the Beanstalk by Mary Pope Osborne, as well as her own Tell Me What to Dream About, This Is My Dollhouse, and The Year I Didn’t Go to School, about traveling through Italy with her parents’ puppet troupe when she was eight. She lives in Rosendale, New York, with her husband and two daughters. Visit her at


"This lovely cumulative tale would make a fine readaloud, a fine tellaloud, and oh, heck, a fine singaloud, too". -- The Bulletin

"This lovely cumulative tale would make a fine readaloud, a fine tellaloud, and oh, heck, a fine singaloud, too". -- The Bulletin

Fleming's (Madame Lagrande and Her So High to the Sky Uproarious Pompadour) tale of an Italian girl with a song in her heart, accompanied by Potter's (Mr. Semolina-Semolinas) delicate renderings of Venetian life, has a refreshing, innocent simplicity. Opening with views of famous landmarks (the Piazza San Marco, the Grand Canal, St. Mark's Cathedral), the book introduces young Gabriella Menza, for whom Venice is also the city of music. Walking home from the marketplace, Gabriella hears "the slap-slap of drying laundry; the flap-flap of pigeon wings... and the ting-aling-ling of church bells." Her mother's beckoning voice joins the growing chorus and inspires the girl's own tune. Thus begins a musical chain reaction in which the tune makes a baker happy and a widow sad, prompts a gondolier to sing of love and, finally, inspires a blocked composer to write music again. Potter's joyous drawings of the city's cobbled streets, bridges and piazzas are colored in the city's luxuriant earth tones and changing sea shades, while her caricatured figures and off-kilter perspectives, in full-page and vignette illustrations, are reminiscent of folk art. Music lovers, especially, will be inspired by Fleming and Potter's passionate depiction of the vibrant city that gave birth to opera, filled with concertos, arias and tunes that come from the heart. Ages 3-8. (Oct.)

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