Dianne Hofmeyr, illustrator Jane Ray
Age 7-9 years
In Venice a wealthy successful glassmaker is worried about his daughter Daniela who is always sad. He offers a glass palace to anyone who can make his daughter smile. Many attempt to entertain her but they all fail. Then Angelo a young glassmaker decides to try, creating a special gift, a looking glass. When Daniela looks into it she sees a very funny, grumpy face looking back. Amused by her own reflection Daniela begins to smile and laugh. Her happiness is so infectious soon the whole city is laughing and dancing too.
This is a well told story in fairy tale style about finding happiness within ourselves. There is lots to talk about in the story itself and the beautiful illustrations including a stunning spread of the glass palace shattering. The foreword provides a fascinating insight into the historical context for the story; medieval Venice renowned for its glassmaking, the wealth and prestige of its craftsmen and the efforts made to keep their recipes for glass and mirror making secret.
Share the story
Before beginning the story read the information in the foreword together. You might also like to find Venice on a map.
Although your child may be able to read the text themselves, reading it to them enables them to focus on the ideas of the story, the humour and the wonderful illustrations too.
When you read the story aloud allow time for reading and talking about the pictures and story too. See below for suggestions for talking about the story.
Your child may be confident to read the story independently especially after hearing you read it aloud however it can be fun to return to the book and read some parts together or take turns. For example, the double page with all the entertainers could be read by alternating like this:
Parent: glove makers Child: tart bakers
Parent: trumpet players Child: dragon slayers etc
You could finish the section off by reading the last line together.
Watch the story read aloud.
Talk about the story
Share favourite lines from the story eg ‘its lamplight danced like fireflies’ and favourite illustrations
Discuss anything puzzling, for example unfamiliar words such as melancholy, molten, gondola, alchemist, maestro.
What would you tell someone else about this story?
Share what makes you both happy
"Isaac absolutely loved Man on the Moon. The illustrations in this book are wonderful and they captured my son’s imagination. We spent ages spotting the aliens in the pictures and trying to deciding which alien was our favourite."
"Following the activities suggested by Lovemybooks, we had a fantastic day reading, making and talking about space. We loved making a rocket together and this inspired so much discussion and learning about space."
"Reading the book and talking about the story and pictures in detail meant that my son was really willing to do some writing himself. He wrote a book about Bob’s day and was able to sequence the story himself because he was so familiar with the story. Making a zig zag book was a fantastic recommendation because it meant he was so proud to have written a book himself."
"Thank you Lovemybooks for such a brilliant recommendation and such imaginative and inspiring activities. I really think it’s such a brilliant resource for parents and teachers!"
Things to make and do
Can you make someone laugh?
Do you think you would have been able to make Daniela smile? Choose a friend or someone in your family and try to make them laugh or smile by for example dressing up or telling jokes.
What happens when you smile?
Make different expressions in a mirror and look closely at what happens to your features when you smile – take photos or draw pictures to show the changes. See below to find out more about smiling.
Make a poster
Children could make a poster as if it is from the glassmaker advertising for someone to make his daughter smile, including the reward of a glass palace.
Make a glittery collage
Children could make their own shattered glass picture by cutting a square or circle of shiny paper or foil into shard shapes and arranging and sticking them on a coloured background.
Make a Venetian mask
Perhaps the glassmaker decided to have a ball to celebrate Angelo’s success and Daniela’s happiness. You could use the templates available via the weblink here to make a Venetian mask and decorate for example with paint or felt tips, ribbons and sequins. See here for help.
Make a pop-up glass palace
Author of The Glassmaker’s Daughter Dianne Hofmeyr, wonders if anyone would like to make a pop-up glass palace – if so here is one made from silver mirror card, collage and glitter.
Find out more