Elena's Serenade

Written By: Campbell Geeslin

About the Author

Geeslin spent his youth in rural west Texas in the 1930's. He recalls his experiences growing up in the South and visiting his family across the border in Mexico throughout many of his writings. Campbell began his career in New York City as a reporter and editor for over thirty years before he decided to begin writing famous children's picture books such as Elena's Serenade and How Nanita Learned to Make Flan. The main focus of Campbell's books is the rich, Mexican culture; they all also incorporate bilingual text for extra discovery and children learning.



Illustrated By: Ana Juan

About Elena's Serenade

Illustrations originally done in water color paint

Genre: Realistic Fiction


Americas Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature



This story is about a beautiful, youthful Mexican girl, Elena, who leaves her home to prove to her father and herself that she, too, can be a successful glassblower despite the fact that glassblowers are never little and never girls. She sings a serenade throughout her journey, meeting new and motivating friends as she travels who convince her that she had what it takes to succeed. As Elena provides confidence building advice for others, she is also benefitting from advice. Elena's hard work, positive outlook, and preservering determination lead her to her ultimate success; creating beautiful, glass blown objects and making her dear father so proud of her accomplishments.

Three Criteria for Cultural Relevancy

Classroom Application

English Language Arts Standard


3rd Grade Writing

W.3.7 Conduct short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.


Objective: The student will research and report upon a tradition that was previously unknown to them.


  • Read book aloud with students.
  • Discuss the main theme of traditions with students and ask what types of traditions they participate in, within their family, classroom, community, etc.
  • Explain to students that all types of people have their own traditions and cultures, and those carry over throughout history.
  • Explain to students that they will be researching a tradition that would be new to them.
  • To model, I will give students an example of a tradition that I have researched. Ex. Why we eat turkey on Thanksgiving.






Geeslin, Campbell, and Ana Juan. Elena's Serenade. New York: Atheneum, 2004. Print.