Review of A Thousand Glass Flowers: Marietta Barovier and the Invention of the Rosetta Bead

A Thousand Glass Flowers: Marietta Barovier and the Invention of the Rosetta Bead
by Evan Turk; illus. by the author
Primary    Atheneum    48 pp.    g
8/20    978-1-5344-1034-3    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-1-5344-1035-0    $10.99

In fifteenth-century northern Italy, on the island of Murano, where glassmakers thrived, lived young Marietta Barovier. Marietta dreamed of working in glassmaking. Bucking the conventions of the time (it was deemed men’s work), her father, considered a “true maestro” of the art, taught her the trade and took her along when he had business in Venice, where she fell in love with the intricate mosaics of San Marco. After her father’s death, and inspired (as Turk imagines) by her childhood experiences, she one day crafted her first set of rosetta beads (each bead “an individual blossom…frozen in glass”), thereby rediscovering a lost technique. Her beads became known around the world, and Barovier became one of the first women ever to be granted permission to open her own furnace. With deliberate pacing; repeated sun motifs, both visual and textual; spare use of lively figurative language (adult Barovier cherished childhood memories “like a precious jewel”); and generous use of glowing light (Marietta’s own face often sparkles in the glow of a furnace), Turk brings readers the empowering story of an artistic luminary. Slightly off-kilter perspectives, skewed angles, and exaggerated features emphasize the story’s emotional undercurrents and Marietta’s fascination with glittering glass and the “wonder of creating.” An afterword fleshes out Barovier’s contributions to the arts and makes clear that because little is known of her life, much of the book is speculation.

From the July/August 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Julie Danielson
Julie Danielson
Julie Danielson writes about picture books at the blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. She also writes for Kirkus Reviews and BookPage and is a lecturer for the School of Information Sciences graduate program at the University of Tennessee. Her book Wild Things!: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature, written with Betsy Bird and Peter D. Sieruta, was published in 2014.

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