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

S. & S./Atheneum. Aug. 2020. 48p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781534410343.
Gr 3-7–Rosetta beads can be used to create beautiful pieces of jewelry, but how did they come to be? In this illustrated biography, author/illustrator Turk depicts the life of a lesser-known Venetian innovator. Marietta Barovier was inspired by her father Angelo, a master of glassmaking, to engage in this art form. Historians speculate that she was born in the 15th century; Turk notes that the first documented mention of her was in 1431, in her mother’s will. When Angelo died, Barovier’s siblings inherited his glassworks. Angelo left his daughter the recipes for colored glass, which motivated Barovier to create her own works. However, the process was not an easy one. At the time, the idea of a woman glassmaker was not only laughable but also culturally unorthodox. While little is known about Barovier’s life, this story attempts to fill in the gaps. Turk illuminates her ambition and creativity. Inspired by Renaissance artists, his breathtaking illustrations evoke the stunning art of glassmaking. The narrative flows well, providing context to Barovier’s fascination with glassmaking and highlights the difficulties she faced. The author’s note describes Turk’s researching and writing. He explains that because little is actually known through historical records, some of Barovier’s story is based on speculation.
VERDICT Turk provides brilliant illustrations in this work about a lesser-known artist who made a tremendous impact. A welcome addition to elementary and middle school nonfiction picture book collections.

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