Mirette on the High Wire

Mirette on the High Wire

4.3 20
by Emily Arnold McCully
     
 

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Mirette lives in a boarding house surrounded by actors, dancers, jugglers and mimes. Her life is filled with exciting stories and fascinating people. None as magical as the stranger Mirette discovers crossing the courtyard on air--a tightrope walker. Mirette becomes the stranger's pupil and learns to walk the wire. Features brilliant watercolor and gouache paintings,… See more details below

Overview

Mirette lives in a boarding house surrounded by actors, dancers, jugglers and mimes. Her life is filled with exciting stories and fascinating people. None as magical as the stranger Mirette discovers crossing the courtyard on air--a tightrope walker. Mirette becomes the stranger's pupil and learns to walk the wire. Features brilliant watercolor and gouache paintings, reminiscent of the French Impressionists. 1993 Caldecott Medal winner.

Editorial Reviews

Mailbox Magazine
Tutored by the world-renowned Monsieur Bellini, Mirette becomes a skillful tightrope walker. But when she discovers that Bellini is overcome with fear on the wire, Mirette begins to feel fear and doubt herself. The beautiful blend of art and text in this Caldecott Medal book will touch the heart of every reader.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this picture book set in 19th-century Paris, a child helps a daredevil who has lost his edge to regain his confidence. Many traveling performers stay at Madame Gateaux's boarding house, but Mme.'s daughter Mirette is particularly taken with one guest--the quiet gentleman who can walk along the clothesline without falling off. Mirette implores the boarder to teach her his craft, not knowing that her instructor is the ``Great Bellini'' of high wire fame. After much practice the girl joins Bellini on the wire as he conquers his fear and demonstrates to all of Paris that he is still the best. McCully's story has an exciting premise and starting point, but unfortunately ends up as a missed opportunity. Bellini's anxiety may be a bit sophisticated for the intended audience and, surprisingly, the scenes featuring Mirette and Bellini on the high wire lack drama and intensity. McCully's rich palette and skillful renderings of shadow and light sources make this an inviting postcard from the Old World. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
The Caldecott award for the year's best picture book in 1992 was given to Mirette on the High Wire, written and illustrated by McCully. Mirette is a fine model for young women five and up. She's a hard working nineteenth century girl who becomes curious about tightrope walking. Mirette is always eager and joyful through falls and triumphs. At the story's end, her compassion, courage, and quick wit help her teacher face his fear. Not only does this book present a strong heroine, but it tells important truths. Adults don't always have the answers. They too suffer from their fears, and understanding can transcend age.
Children's Literature - Mary Quattlebaum
Mirette skillfully walks a tightrope in 19th century Paris and helps the frightened artist who taught her.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-- Mirette's mother keeps a boardinghouse that attracts traveling performers . The girl is intrigued by one silent visitor, Bellini, who has come for a rest. She finds him next morning walking a high wire strung across the backyard. Immediately, she is drawn to it, practicing on it herself until she finds her balance and can walk its distance. But she finds the man unusually secretive about his identity; he was a famous high-wire artist, but has lost his courage. He is lured by an agent to make a comeback, but freezes on the wire. Seeing Mirette at the end of it restores his nerve; after the performance the two set off on a new career together. As improbable as the story is, its theatrical setting at some historical distance, replete with European architecture and exotic settings and people, helps lend credibility to this circus tale. Mirette, through determination and perhaps talent, trains herself, overcoming countless falls on cobblestone, vaunting pride that goes before a fall, and lack of encouragement from Bellini. The impressionistic paintings, full of mottled, rough edges and bright colors, capture both the detail and the general milieu of Paris in the last century. The colors are reminiscent of Toulouse-Lautrec, the daubing technique of Seurat. A satisfying, high-spirited adventure. --Ruth K. MacDonald, Purdue Univ . Calumet, Hammond, IN
Kathryn Broderick
McCully has created a picture book in a totally different vein than that of "Picnic" or "School". Set 100 years ago at a boarding house in Paris, the story features Mirette, the owner's young daughter. One day the great high-wire walker Bellini arrives to stay, and in fascination Mirette observes him practicing his craft. Curious and committed, Mirette begins studying with Bellini and quickly learns the tricks of the trade. She also discovers, however, that her teacher is stricken with fear and no longer performs. In refusing to accept this, she spurs Bellini to stage a comeback above the streets of Paris. McCully delivers an exciting outcome, and her gutsy heroine and bright, impressionistic paintings provide a very satisfying reading experience.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780606116282
Publisher:
San Val, Incorporated
Publication date:
03/01/1997
Edition description:
REPRINT
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

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