Gabriella's Song


In the streets and canals of Venice, Gabriella can hear nothing but sweet music. The drying laundry goes slap-slap, the church bells go ting-aling-ling, and the lire go jing-aling-ling. Soon, Gabriella is humming her way through town — and everyone hears her song! Some find it sad, others smile when they hear it — but none can forget the beautiful melody. Before long, a certain struggling composer is inspired by Gabriella's song — and a beautiful symphony is born.


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In the streets and canals of Venice, Gabriella can hear nothing but sweet music. The drying laundry goes slap-slap, the church bells go ting-aling-ling, and the lire go jing-aling-ling. Soon, Gabriella is humming her way through town — and everyone hears her song! Some find it sad, others smile when they hear it — but none can forget the beautiful melody. Before long, a certain struggling composer is inspired by Gabriella's song — and a beautiful symphony is born.

A young girl finds music all around her as she walks about the city of Venice, Italy, and she shares her song with everyone she meets.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"Delicate renderings of Venetian life set the stage for this heartwarming tale of a girl with a song in her heart that kindles emotion and inspiration in everyone who hears it," said PW in its Best Books citation. Ages 3-8. (Apr.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
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.
Children's Literature - Judy Chernak
There is so much music in Venice! Gabriella hears it in the calls of the street merchants, in the rhythm of the gondolas riding in the canal, even in the drying laundry hanging in the sun. She hums her own melody as she skips along, and soon everyone is humming it. When it floats to the window of a famous composer temporarily stumped for the music to his next opera, Gabriella's simple tune receives the royal treatment and becomes a masterpiece for the whole town to enjoy. Lovely sun-washed illustrations transmit a warm feeling for the city of canals.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-3--In Venice, the city of music, young Gabriella hears music in voices, water, boats, pigeons, the "slap-slap" of laundry drying, the "ting-aling-ling" of church bells, and her mother's voice. In Gabriella's heart, these sounds combine and become a song that she hums in the bakery. The baker hums it to a widow, who hums it to a gondolier, who plays it on his accordion. The music catches in the breeze, which spreads it all through the city--and into the room where the "brilliant composer Giuseppe Del Pietro" sits in museless frustration, unable to work on his newest symphony, scheduled for performance in a few weeks. Gabriella's tune, of course, becomes his inspiration, and he turns it into a magnificent symphony. Not only do the Venetians love the music, but they recognize it as Gabriella's song, and she, too, receives a standing ovation. Potter's flat ink, watercolor, and colored-pencil illustrations are somewhat reminiscent of Maira Kalman's work. A subdued palette transports readers to the streets of a city filled with old-world charm and perfectly complements the engaging text. Endpapers feature laundry and sheet music fluttering on clotheslines, and the back cover displays a map of Italy with Venice's location marked. A whimsical book for budding musicians, music teachers, or just about anyone looking for a good story.--Lisa Falk, Palos Verdes Library, CA
Kirkus Reviews
Fleming (Madame Lagrande and Her So High, To the Sky, Uproarious Pompadour, 1996) celebrates music and its power to touch our lives. The setting is Venice, dazzlingly captured by Potter, in a palette of fresh colors and full of droll characterizations. Gabriella is walking home from the marketplace, and fashions from the flap of drying laundry, the jingle of coins, the ringing of church bells, and other sounds a little tune, which she hums at the baker's while buying a cannoli. The tune makes the baker's heart light, and he hums it, too. The widow Santucci stops in, hears the tune and becomes sad; nevertheless, she hums it on the way home, and the gondolier, overhearing her, plays it on the accordion. Thus the tune is passed throughout the city, evoking a variety of responses. To composer Giuseppe Del Pietro, who is experiencing a block just as a new symphony is due, the tune is heaven-sent, sweet music that he shapes into a great work of art. A disarmingly simple tale, this is inspiring and transporting.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689841750
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 4/1/2001
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 572,431
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: 400L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Candace Fleming is the acclaimed author of numerous books for children, including Ben Franklin’s Almanac, an ALA Notable Book and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults; as well as Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!; Gabriella’s Song; and When Agnes Caws; all ALA Notable Books. She lives in a suburb of Chicago.

Giselle Potter is the author and illustrator of The Year I Didn't Go to School, which is based upon her travels around Italy with her family's theater troupe at age seven. She is also the illustrator of The Brave Little Seamstress and Kate and the Beanstalk, both by Mary Pope Osborne, The Honest-to-Goodness Truth by Patricia C. McKissack, and Gabriella's Song by Candace Fleming. Ms. Potter lives in Rosendale, New York.

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