Tag Archives: women

PPBF – A Thousand Glass Flowers: Marietta Barovier and the Invention of the Rosetta Bead

I always love reading about women who break barriers, as regular readers know. But you may not know that I collect colored glass vases and that I had the opportunity several years ago to try glassblowing and make my own vase.

I made the bright green vase on the right!

So when I saw this new picture book about a female glassmaker, you know I had to read and share it!

Title: A Thousand Glass Flowers: Marietta Barovier and the Invention of the Rosetta Bead

Written & Illustrated By: Evan Turk

Publisher/Date: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster/2020

Suitable for Ages: 5-9

Themes/Topics: glassmaking, biography, women, glass beads, persistence, breaking barriers

Opening:

Marietta loved to watch the sun. It was like a glowing ball of glass that rose each morning to give light and color to the world.

She lived with her family on the island of Murano, as all the glassmakers did, cut off from the main city of Venice.

Brief Synopsis:

Young Marietta grew up in a family of Murano glassmakers during the Renaissance, but glassmaking was a male profession. With her father’s encouragement and much determination, Marietta became one of the first female professional glassmakers and invented a beautiful glass bead.

Links to Resources:

  • Learn about Venice and the glass-making islands that surround this city of canals;
  • Check out the kid-friendly activities at Corning Museum of Glass;
  • Watch a fun video about the chemistry of glass and how it is made.

Why I Like this Book:

Pluck, persistence, a craft that combines science and artistic skill, and gorgeous illustrations – what’s not to like about the latest from the talented author-illustrator Evan Turk?

A Thousand Glass Flowers is the story of a young girl, Marietta, growing up in a family of male glassmakers at a time when glassmaking, like the vast majority of crafts and professions, was solely a male profession. But young Marietta was fascinated by the glass-making process, despite the noise and the heat of the furnace. Her father, a master glassmaker, not only noted her interest but encouraged her to learn more and test her skills.

After his death, Marietta continued his glassmaking processes. She also furthered the profession by learning to make delicate beads that looked like a thousand flowers, the so-called rosetta beads, or “millefiori” in Italian. Many readers may be familiar with these beads, which are still popular today.

I think children and adults will enjoy learning more about the fascinating process of glassmaking and the influence one woman had on its process and art in an era when men dominated the craft.

Turk’s jewel-toned with gold-accented illustrations really bring this story, glassmaking, and the era to life.

A Note about Craft:

As noted in an Author’s Note, little is known about Marietta’s early life, so Turk imagined several scenes in which Marietta’s father taught her the trade. A Thousand Glass Flowers therefore is not strictly-speaking a biography or pure non-fiction.

Despite the lack of information about Marietta’s early life, Turk went above and beyond doing research, including visiting Venice and Murano, meeting one of Marietta’s descendants (who happens to be an antique glass expert), and even visiting the world-famous Corning Museum of Glass, where he tried glassblowing himself.

Finally, regular readers know that the vast majority of the books I choose as Perfect Picture Books have a social justice theme. In addition to exploring historic barriers to careers for women, Turk explains in the Author’s Note that the beads Marietta invented were used by Columbus on his journeys and as payment for, among other items, slaves in Africa. I believe this information is important to consider, even as we marvel at the beauty of Marietta’s creations.

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!

Perfect Pairing – of Fearless Female Flyers

Today is the 103rd anniversary of a daring flight by Ruth Law, a female pilot and the subject of one of today’s perfectly paired picture books. As so many Americans anticipate holiday flights next week, I thought it would be interesting to look back to the dawn of aviation, and the roles two courageous female pilots played in that history.

 

Fearless Flyer: Ruth Law and Her Flying Machine

Author: Heather Lang

Illustrator: Raúl Colón

Publisher/Date: Calkins Creek, an imprint of Boyds Mills Press/2016

Ages: 5-8

Themes: flying, women, biography, courage

Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):

On November 19, 1916, at 8:25 a.m., Ruth Law took off on a flight that aviation experts thought was doomed. She set off to fly nonstop from Chicago to New York City. Sitting at the controls of her small bi-plane, exposed to the elements, Law battled fierce winds and numbing cold. When her engine ran out of fuel, she glided for two miles and landed at Hornell, New York. Even though she fell short of her goal, she had broken the existing cross-country distance record. And with her plane refueled, she got back in the air and headed for New York City where crowds waited to greet her. In this well-researched, action-packed picture book, Heather Lang and Raúl Colón recreate a thrilling moment in aviation history. Includes an afterword with archival photographs.

Read a review at Kirkus Reviews.

 

The Flying Girl: How Aída de Acosta Learned to Soar

Author: Margarita Engle

Illustrator: Sara Palacios

Publisher/date: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (Simon & Schuster)/March 2018

Ages: 4-8

Themes: flying, first female pilot, biography, courage

Short Synopsis (from Goodreads):

In this beautiful picture book filled with soaring words and buoyant illustrations, award-winners Margarita Engle and Sara Palacios tell the inspiring true story of Aída de Acosta, the first woman to fly a motorized aircraft.

On a lively street in the lovely city of Paris, a girl named Aída glanced up and was dazzled by the sight of an airship. Oh, how she wished she could soar through the sky like that! The inventor of the airship, Alberto, invited Aída to ride with him, but she didn’t want to be a passenger. She wanted to be the pilot.

Aída was just a teenager, and no woman or girl had ever flown before. She didn’t let that stop her, though. All she needed was courage and a chance to try.

Read my review.

I paired these books because they both feature ground-breaking female pilots at the dawn of aviation, who conquered their fears and society’s expectations to soar to new heights. Each book focuses on the flight and events leading up to it, and both contain helpful backmatter about each pilot and her role in aviation history.