Anna Maria's Gift (A Stepping Stone Book(TM))

Image of Anna Maria's Gift (A Stepping Stone Book(TM))
Release Date: 
April 26, 2010
Random House Books for Young Readers
Reviewed by: 

"Ms. Shefelman has written an enchanting tale that is sure to please youngsters."

The year is 1715, and nine-year-old Anna Maria Lombardini of Cremona, Italy, has just lost her father. Her mother died the year before from the same illness, and now Anna Maria is fated to move to Pietà, a girl’s orphanage in Venice. Not wanting to leave her home and go to a strange place, Anna Maria has found solace in the violin her father made for her before his death.

Anna Maria is accompanied to Venice by Sister Bianca, a former orphan herself, and the young girl is befriended by gondolier Francesco, who assures her that Venice is a happy place. Welcomed into the orphanage, Anna Maria is befriended by Silvia, another orphan who plays the cello. The two girls bond immediately, and Silvia warns Anna Maria to watch out for Paolina, another violinist who does not want to be usurped by the newcomer.

Maestro Vivaldi, the orphanage’s music instructor becomes enchanted by Anna Maria’s talent, which fuels Paolina’s jealousy; one night Paolina steals Anna Maria’s prized violin and throws it in the canal. Anna Maria becomes inconsolable after losing the last connection to her deceased father, and she sneaks off to search for her violin, wondering if she can ever find happiness again, or even offer forgiveness to the jealous Paolina.

Ms. Shefelman has written an enchanting tale that is sure to please youngsters. Imparting a bit of history, she also educates the reader with a glossary of different terms, as well as teaching a lesson about loyalty and jealousy. Mr. Papp’s delightful illustrations enhance the text, offering a greater visualization of the story.