Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln” as Want to Read:
Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  218 ratings  ·  38 reviews
A Kirkus Reviews Best Picture Book of 2019

In soaring words and stunning illustrations, Margarita Engle and Rafael López tell the story of Teresa Carreño, a child prodigy who played piano for Abraham Lincoln.

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,
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published August 27th 2019 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Dancing Hands, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Dancing Hands

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.22  · 
Rating details
 ·  218 ratings  ·  38 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln
Natalia Sylvester
Sep 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is so beautifully written & illustrated—the language leaps off the page as vibrantly as the illustrations, with a wonderful message of how courage, hope & kindness carry us far in difficult times. I love how the author explored the duality of light & darkness in life, the way they coexist and create music out of our joys & sorrows.
Dancing Hands..Wow...this was such an informative picture book. Honestly, before reading this book I had never heard of Teresa Carreno or that she played the piano for President Lincoln during the Civil War. I was amazed at how young and talented she was and how she had to escape war from her home country of Venezuela only to come to the United states to become immersed in our own civil war. I found everything about this book fascinating. My only criticism is the simplicity with which the ...more
Ben Truong
Sep 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln is a children's picture book written by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Rafael Laopez. It is a biographical picture book of Teresa Carreño – a Venezuelan pianist.

Mid-September to Mid-October, at least in my part of the world is Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month, which I plan to read one children's book, particularly a biography, which pertains to the subject everyday this month. Therefore, I thought that this book would be
Sep 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“When Teresa was a little girl
in Venezuela, Mamá sang lullabies
while Papá showed Teresita how
to let her happy hands dance
across all the beautiful
dark and light keys
of a piano.”

Lopez’s astounding illustrations and Engle’s lyrical text make this book pure joy to read. Teresa Carreño was a masterful pianist at a young age who grew up in an era of turmoil – in her home country of Venezuela and in her adopted country of the United States (i.e., Civil War). Music soothed not only Carreño, but also
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The message is beautiful, the illustrations are beautiful, and the blending of history, culture, and the arts is why I’ll read anything by this author. My music students will love this story!
Oct 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Teresa Carreno was a Venezuelan pianist who fled to the United States as a child when there was a revolution in her home country. But arriving in the U.S., there was a war here too, the Civil War was raging. Teresa used music to communicate, practicing her piano with a variety of musicians who came to her home. She played piano in enormous theaters as a child. Then, she was invited to play at the White House by President Abraham Lincoln. Teresa believed in the power of music, but how could it ...more
Two incredible creators on one project? Yes, please--and thank you!

Let’s just gaze upon that cover shall we?! What follows inside the pages will surely be a feast for the eyes and ears. And they are. The poets in word and pictures tell the story of a courageous child prodigy traversing a time and place full of beauty at first, and later, at war. Neither storyteller shrinks back from the dark and it only serves the light Teresa brings to the landscapes/lives she encounters.

I love the kindnesses
Sep 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A lot of people have playlists of music they prefer. Some will have multiple playlists; one for exercise, one for creativity, one for concentration or relaxation. Different music speaks to different people at different times. Conversely a certain song or musician can connect and has connected with thousands of people during human history.

In the United States of America, for four years (and truthfully for some time before and after), this nation was torn by the Civil War from April 12, 1861 to
3.5 stars (bumped up for the topic and lovely illustrations)

I had really high expectations for this much-hyped book by the Cuban-American author of Drum Dream Girl. I really wanted to love it, and I do love the choice of subject. The book tells a story about Teresa Carreno, a Venezuelan immigrant who was a child piano prodigy during the civil war era. Unfortunately, the execution of the story fails for me. Maybe the author took on too much (too broad a focus maybe) or the book had to be edited
Claire Annette
Nov 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is such a beautiful book! Not only does DANCING HANDS introduce a Teresa Carreno, a Venezuelan musician, but it shows an intimate time in Abraham Lincoln’s life when he is grieving the death of his son while trying to abolish slavery. Poet Margarita Engle’s language soars in phrases including:
"hymns that shimmered like hummingbirds,"
"clouds that bucked and kicked across the wild sky like angry mules,"
"and notes that rose, swayed, rippled, and dipped like a bird in a blue sky above a green
Nov 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
“How could music soothe so much trouble?”

The story of the life of Teresa Carreno, who came to the United States when she was 8, her family forced to leave Venezuela. Teresita was a piano prodigy, struggling to feel at home in her new country. “How could she ever play happy songs again in this unfamiliar country where she did not know a single friend?” It was also a troubling time in the US, as the Civil War was raging. But Teresa soon learned that music and song could bring people together and
This awesome picture book biography tells the inspiring story of Teresa Carreno, a little girl who fled war-torn Venezuela with her family to become a famous piano player during the nineteenth century. Music was the centerpiece of Carreno's life, and when the family was forced to move to New York where everything was so different and lonely for them, music helped them cope. Eventually word spread about this little girl's talent and she was asked to come to the White House to play for President ...more
Maria Teresa Carreno was a child prodigy on the piano. She escaped revolution with her family, going from her native Venezuela to the US, where civil war was raging. The book tells of her childhood, with music lessons, performances around the world, and feelings of being an outsider, culminating in a performance at the White House for Abraham Lincoln and his family.

The well-written text gives us the rhythmic and melodic feel of Maria’s fine piano playing, and the illustrations are a perfect
Abby Johnson
This beautiful picture book biography of Venezuelan piano player Teresa Carreño is bright with life and a story about the power of music to soothe the troubled heart. I am in love with Rafael Lopez's art - it's so light and colorful and here it dances on the page much like Carreño's hands danced on the piano keys. This story of a child prodigy musician will appeal to young musicians and readers who enjoy bright picture book biographies. It's perfect for sharing during Hispanic Heritage Month or ...more
Sandy Brehl
The can be no doubt that the author is a master of historic detail and lyrical writing. IN this case the illsurator has matched such excellence with compositions of color, figures, interpretation and movement that interprets the musical quality of the text.
This is an inspiring true story, one that explores the depth of human suffering and struggle and the heights of creativity and artistry.
What could be a story lost in history and times long gone feels very relevant and immediate.
Sep 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Biography of Teresa Carreno for elementary level readers.
Engle shares her life from childhood in Venezuela through traveling the world as a concert pianist and composer.
Detailed illustrations show the range of emotions surrounding her journey from fleeing Venezuela - love the page with the illusion of her carrying the ship on her head - through the American Civil War.
Laura Giessler
I always enjoy learning about people, and picture books are a great way to do it. I liked hearing her story, as well as learning a little more about President Lincoln and the time period, but I wonder what/how readers will connect with her story. There didn't seem to be a strong message of inspiration or a characteristic to emulate. Some of the language seemed overly flowery.
Cara Byrne
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"Teresa remembered how it felt to be a homeless refugee, and how lonely she had been surrounded by strangers, some of them rude and others kind. The memory of meeting past challenges now helped her fingers dance, celebrating the way life had turned out to be a mixture of all sorts of feelings, happy and sad."
Bonnie Grover
Oct 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
A beautifully written biographical picture book about Teresa Carrèno. This is a story of a child prodigy who escapes her war-torn country and plays the piano for grieving President Lincoln. Dancing Hands is written in free verse and is illustrated in bright vibrant colors. I think students are going to enjoy learning more about Teresa Carrèno
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The cover says it all--this young lady made beautiful music while the smoke of war rose all around. Interesting biography of an interesting musician. Beautiful illustrations rendered in acrylics on wood board, using sticks and other tools to paint; also watercolor, pen, ink and construction paper.
Laura Salas
Just what I expect from a Margarita Engle book--a beautiful story told in exceptionally lovely language and rhythm...with a huge heart. I love the theme of music's ability to unite, heal, and deal with difficult times.
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This picture book biography on the life of Teresa Carreño tells the story of this little girl who’s musical talent brings joy to her family, a country and a president. Margarita Engle’s writing is descriptively rich and Rafael López’ illustrations are wonderful.
Amanda Walz
Oct 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A Beautiful Biography
Nice story of a young girl with talented piano skills.
Oct 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, childrens-books
Lisa D
Sep 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful seldom heard story. Loved it! beautifully illustrated!
Oct 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
4 stars for this delightful under publicized piece of history
Lorie Barber
Aug 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The glorious marriage of lyrical words and vibrant illustrations makes this biography about bravery & hope one of the best picture books of the year. Bravo, Margarita Engle & Rafael López!!!
Mrs. Krajewski
Sep 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful words for a beautiful story.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Proudest Blue
  • A Place to Land: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Speech That Inspired a Nation
  • My Papi Has a Motorcycle
  • Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story
  • Just Ask!: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You
  • Saturday
  • Who Wet My Pants?
  • Why?
  • ¡Vamos! Let's Go to the Market
  • Going Down Home with Daddy
  • Truman
  • How to Read a Book
  • Where Are You From?
  • Camp Tiger
  • The Scarecrow
  • Just Because
  • A Stone Sat Still
  • Pokko and the Drum
See similar books…
Margarita Engle is a Cuban-American poet, novelist, and journalist whose work has been published in many countries. She lives with her husband in northern California.