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Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln

   Written by Margarita Engle

Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2019

As a little girl, Teresa Carreño loved to let her hands dance across the beautiful keys of the piano. If she felt sad, music cheered her up, and when she was happy, the piano helped her share that joy. Soon she was writing her own songs and performing in grand cathedrals.

Then a revolution in Venezuela forced her family to flee to the United States. Teresa felt lonely in this unfamiliar place, where few of the people she met spoke Spanish. Worst of all, there was fighting in her new home, too—the American Civil War.

Still, Teresa kept playing, and soon she grew famous as the talented Piano Girl who could play anything from a folk song to a sonata.

So famous, in fact, that President Abraham Lincoln wanted her to play at the White House!

Yet with the country torn apart by war, could Teresa’s music bring comfort to those who needed it most?

To play, press and hold the enter key. To stop, release the enter key.




Engle’s free verse whirls and twirls, playful and vivacious,

while López’s vivid, colorful artwork elevates this story to heavenly heights.

Like a concerto for the heart.

Kirkus Starred Review


Lyrical, imagery-rich text . . . Patterned mixed-media illustrations use color

to evoke the lushness of Venezuela, the darkness of war, and the beauty of music.

Concluding with a historical note, the biography’s vibrant images

and language form a melodious composition..