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The Glassmaker’s Daughter

Dianne Hofmeyr, illustrator Jane Ray
Frances Lincoln
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.

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Share the story

Before beginning the story read the information in the foreword together. You might also like to find Venice on a map.

Read aloud
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.

Join in
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
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

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.

Find out more

Find out what happens when you smile 

Find out more about the history of glassmaking in Venice

Find out about present day glassmaking in Murano, Venice .

Read more stories by Dianne Hofmeyr here

Titles include:

Zeraffa Giraffa also illustrated by Jane Ray

My Daddy is a Silly Monkey

Tiger Walk

Magic Bojabi Tree

Find out about Jane Ray here 

Zeraffa Giraffa with Dianne Hofmeyr

The Unicorn Prince

The Lost Happy Endings