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Mirette on the High Wire

Mirette on the High Wire

4.3 20
by Emily Arnold McCully

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A famous tightrope walker teaches his art to a young girl. She, in turn, helps him lose his fear.


A famous tightrope walker teaches his art to a young girl. She, in turn, helps him lose his fear.

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.

Product Details

Penguin Group (USA)
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.50(w) x 10.50(h) x 0.25(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Emily Arnold McCully was born in Galesburg, Illinois, and grew up "a daredevil child," always climbing trees or buildings. She made it to college intact, however, and received her B.A. from Brown University and an M.A. in art history from Columbia University.

Emily McCully's artwork has been included in the International Biennale at Bratislava, and she has won a Christopher Award for Picnic, one of the many picture books that she has both written and illustrated.

Writing also for adults, Ms. McCully has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and New York State Council on the Arts. Her book, A Craving was nominated for an American Book Award.

The idea for Mirette on the High Wire began as a biography of real-life daredevil Blondin. But the author changed her mind to accomodate the tree-climbing child and risk-taking adult she was and is.

copyright ? 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.

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Mirette on the High Wire 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
emberbun13 More than 1 year ago
I purchased the book for my two nieces.
CMO1 More than 1 year ago
I used this book to start a unit on Balance and Motion. My second graders loved listening to this book, then tring to using their own bodies to balance. Awesome!
ShelbyCrum More than 1 year ago
It is a cute story about one girl finding her talent. About a girl with determination and the desire to find out who she is and something that she is good at. A great story about inspiration and would read to younger kids. A true delight to read and I just wish I found it earlier. A well-written story with great pictures.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was one of my favorite bedtime stories growing up. It always made me believe in myself. I love this story so much, even now. It's probably one of my all-time favorite books. And the illistrations are amazing!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Caldecott Book Title: Mirette On The High Wire Reading Level: Third Grade Genre: Fantasy About the Author: Emily Arnold McCully was born in Galesburg, Illinois, and grew up ¿a dare devil child,¿ always climbing trees or buildings. She makes it to college intact, however, and received her BA from Brown University and an MA in art history from Columbia University. Emily McCully¿s artwork has been included in the International Biennale at Bratislava, and she has won a Christopher Award for Picnic, one of the many written and illustrated. Book Review: Mirette is the daughter of Madame Gateau who ran a boardinghouse. ¿One evening a tall, sad-faced stranger arrived.¿ He was a retired high-wire walker and came there for a rest and to be left alone. When Mirette discovers him crossing the court yard on air, she begs him to teach her how it¿s done. ¿Oh, please teach me!¿ Little did she know that the sad-faced stranger who wanted to keep to himself, was once the Great Bellini, master wire-walker, who had been stopped by fear. ¿Once you have fear on the wire, it never leaves,¿ Bellini said. It was Mirette that would teach him courage once again. This is a delightfully wonderful story of courage and accomplishments. I would definitely recommend this book. Bibliographic Information: McCully, Emily Arnold . Mirette On the High Wire. New York: G.P. Putnam¿s Sons, 1992.
Guest More than 1 year ago
McCully Emily Arnold , Marette on the high wire, G.P Putnam¿s son¿s , new York. Emily Arnold McCully was born in Galesburg, Illinois, in 1939, but grew up in Garden City, New York. Her father was a writer for network radio shows, and her mother was an actress and singer. It was her mother who inspired her artistic abilities as a child. As a child, Emily Arnold McCully doodled and sketched and created her own stories, binding them into books. As class artist in school, she designed posters, backdrops, and programs for concerts and plays. During high school, she often visited the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and sketched people in Union Square. The city fueled her ambitions for an active life in the arts, theater, and publishing. She attended Pembroke College (now part of Brown University), but instead of studying drawing, she devoted her time to theater, reading, and art history But after graduation, she ended up as a quasi-secretary in an advertising agency. She also earned an M.A. in art history at Columbia. Finally, realizing she had no future in the advertising agency, she put together a portfolio of drawings and took it around to all sorts of art directors. Gradually, jobs trickled in, mostly for book covers. Finally, an editor at Harper and Row Junior Books spotted a poster she had done that featured children. She received her first book illustration assignment. Ms. McCully feels strongly that books should stir the imagination, and she abhors those who would make all books merely palliative or instructive. Like Isaac Bashevis Singer, she too believes that children's books are the last refuge of storytelling. Among the awards she has won, Ms. McCully has received a Christopher Award for Picnic, and the Caldecott award for Mirette on the High Wire. Emily Arnold McCully lives in New York. Marette helped her mother in their boardinghouse. A man came looking for some quiet time. Marette fount him in the back of the building walking on a rope tied up in the air. She was intrigued by this act and wanted to learn how to do it herself. She kept trying until she got it. This talent lead her to do something amazing and unexpected. I thought this was a good book. It teaches children to never give up and you will succeed. The pictures were excellent. They had a lot of details. I think this book is one children would enjoy reading. They could learn a valuable lesson. ¿protégée of the great bellini¿ Kids when you are reading this book you will feel like you are walking on the high wire your self. Just think of all thisthings you could do if you never gave up. Read this book and see what can be done by trying until you succeed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Emily McCully was born in Illinois in 1939. Her father was a writer for radio shows, and her mother was singer and actress. Emily says it was her mother who has inspired her artistic abilities. As a child, Emily loved to doodle and sketch to create her own stories. Emily shares her own experiences and says ¿My advice for aspiring artists and writers is this, don't worry about what other people are doing. Don't try to emulate. Work from what is inside you, crying out, however softly, however timidly, for expression.¿ Mirette on the Hire Wire received the Caldecott Award in 1993. One day, a stranger arrives at the boardinghouse of the Gateau, who is a widow. The stranger keeps to himself. Mirette, the widow¿s daughter, saw the stranger crossing the courtyard in the air. She begs and begs the stranger to teach her. Mirette does not know that the stranger was the Great Bellini, the master wire-walker. Has Bellini been stopped by a fear or did he not enjoy it any longer? Read the rest of the book to find out the ending. The story is about courage that has to reteach by Mirette. It takes courage, faith, and hope. The reading level of the book is second grade, nine month. It is a compelling story of lessons, courage, and friendship. I liked reading this book it gave me hope that we must not let our fears get in the way of our life. In the book says ¿`Once you have fear on the wire, it never leaves,¿ Bellini said. `But you must make it leave!¿ Mirette insisted.¿ This is a very lovely story with wonderful illustrations. McCully, Emily Arnold. Mirette on the High Wire. New York: G.P Putnam¿s Sons, 1992.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This Caldecott Medal Award Winner titled Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully is deserving of a rating of five. This picture book is age appropriate for ages four to eight years. It consists of an inspiring story about a spirited, loving young girl named Mirette. The setting of the story takes place one hundred years ago in Paris. Of course, the protagonist of the story Mirette, which is friendly, brave, and someone that children can relate to and admire for her adventures and bravery. The story often evokes strong emotions like excitement and suspense to maintain the reader`s attention. Mirette, is friendly, brave, and someone that children can relate to and admire for her bravery. The emotional state of the story as a whole is positive with suspense here and there. The characters themselves are obviously dynamic. The plot of this story is about an admirable girl who meets the famous Bellini that was known to have performed amazing, tricks. Mirettes observance of Bellini soon had her fascinated watching him walk steadily on a wire. Mirette, naturally adventurous wanted desperately to be able to walk the wire herself. In fact, the text states: ¿Nothing pleased her more than to overhear the vagabond players tell of their adventures in this town and along the road¿. The theme of this story is to encourage young readers that they will eventually succeed in they¿re goals if they set they¿re mind to it. Readers feel compelled to read the story to see if Mirette accomplishes her goal by walking on the wire. This inspiring, heartwarming book leaves the audience wondering if Mirette succeeds and the adventures she gets caught up in. Surprisingly, the story ends with an unexpected twist. This story is categorized as a fantasy genre since it contained at least one impossible element within the story. McCully, Emily Arnold. Mirette on the High Wire. New York: G.P. Putnam¿s Sons, 1992.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mirette on the High Wire is a fantastic book for kids of all ages. Through this story, a child is able to see that even the most unlikeliest dream can come true for anyone. This is a great fanstasy story because it tells the tale of a young girl who gives courgage back to a high wire artist by walking the tight rope in the yard. The two then begin to working together and tells of the great fun that they have. I would recommend this novel to second or third graders.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you have this is the perfect book for you. 'One hundred years ago' in a small town in Paris the story comes to life. A widow named, Gateau, runs a small boardinghouse with her daughter, Mirette. The two take in a company of traveling performers. A gentleman arrives soon after and is also given a room. Mirette is delighted to find that the man, who is named Bellini, is a tightrope walker. She immediately asks him to teach her but the man refuses. Mirette begins to teach herself. After much determination, she is able to walk the length of a clothing line. Bellini soon agrees teach her the trade. Mirette learns that Bellini was once the greatest tightrope walker in the world but that he does perform anymore because he is afraid. Finally, Bellini decides to overcome his fear and in a spectacular staged event Bellini strings a rope across two building to walk. However, it is only through Mirette's help that he can really regain control of his abilities. This story comes with my highest recommendations. With the fantastic, colorful illustrations, the tale is brought to life. This delightful story encourages all of it¿s readers to always peruse their dreams.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book contains some of the most beautiful watercolors that I have seen in a children¿s book. The story is about a little girl, Mirette whose mother runs a boardinghouse in Paris. One day, a man comes to the house for a room. Mirette finds him walking on a wire in the courtyard. This fascinates her. ¿Oh, please teach me!¿ Mirette begged. The story enfolds with Mirette becoming an unforeseen hero. This story is one of dreams and how you can achieve anything if you work hard and remain focused on the task. The author and illustrator of this book, Emily Arnold McCully was a ¿daredevil child¿. She wrote this book about herself as a child who climbed trees and an adult who takes risks. It is an inspiration for children and adults.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In Paris, a small girl, Mirette, worked at the Gateau's Boardinghouse, where she encountered many amazing people. One day, Bellini, a famous tight rope walker arrived. She saw in him walking on a clothesline outside and immediately knew that she wanted to be like him. She told him, 'Oh, please teach me! My feet are already unhappy on the ground.' He taught her the basics, and soon she walking on the rope. Little did she know that she would return the favor by helping him. The author, Emily Arnold McCully, not only based the book on her dare-devil days as child, but on Blondin, a tight rope walker. Emily was born in Galesburg Illinois, where her dare-devil days began. She graduated from Brown University in BA in Art History, and later received her MA in Art History at Columbia University. She has illustrated over 100 books and won the 1993 Caldecott Medal for Mirette on the High Wire. She has also written prize-winning musicals and has acted. Other books that she has written are Grandmas At Bat, My Real Family, and Little Kit, or The Industrious Flea Circus Girl. Mirette and the High Wire is a thrilling story of a girls determination. The book has become a series in which Mirette and Bellini travel the world taking the high wire to new heights. I enjoyed reading this book because it is just fun, and the illustrations are wonderful. Kids everywhere will be amazed with all the tricks performed on the high wire. Grade Level: 3rd McCully, Emily Arnold. Mirette on the High Wire. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1992
Guest More than 1 year ago
Caldecott Do you like high wire action? If so this is for you! The main characters are Mirette and Mr. Bellini. Mirette seen Mr. Bellini walk on a wire and she wanted to try to do this too. She practices outside on the wire after Mr. Bellini. He came back and saw her on the wire. Mr. Bellini decides to help Mirette because she told him ¿My feet are already unhappy on the ground¿. He understood this kind of unhappiness. He told about being afraid and thought of an idea to show her that he is not afraid anymore thanks to her. I enjoyed this book and my little girl did too. Emily Arnold McCully was born in Galesburg, Illinois in 1939, but grew up in Garden City, New York. She obtained a degree in art history from Brown University. She later obtained an MA in art history at Columbia. Bibliography McCully, Emily Arnold. Mirette on the High Wire. New York: The Putnam and Grosset Group, 1992.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This books theme is about a stranger arriving at the boardinghouse of the widow Gateau. The widow¿s daughter Mirette discovers him walking in the courtyard on air and she wants to learn, so the man decides to teach her how he can walk on the air. But, Mirette doesn¿t know the stranger once was the Great Bellini a master wire-walker and he has stopped walking the wire because of a fear. Mirette will teach him to have courage once again. This book genre is a picture book and it would be great for any child to read should an inspirational story about courage. The author of this book Emily Arnold McCully received her B.A. from Brown University and an M.A. in art history from Columbia University. This book was written as a biography of real-life daredevil Blondin. But she changed her mind to accommodate the tree-climbing child and risk-taking adult she was and is today.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mirette on the high wire was an assigned reading for a children's literature class. The watercolor illustrations are beautiful. Ms.McCully does a wonderful job of transporting you to Paris France 100 years ago. I feel that children over 6 would enjoy this book, however it may loose the attention of younger children. Overall I enjoyed the book and felt that Ms.McCully did a wonderful job with this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book Mirette on the high wire is a good children¿s book because the pictures and words are very descriptive. This story is about a retired high wire artist who lives in a boarding house and a little girl who has dreams of being a high wire artist. So the high wire artist teaches her how to walk the wire and her dreams of being a high wire artist come true.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a good book because it tells you to believe in yourself and don¿t give up. The main characters are Mirette and Mr. Bellini. You just want to know what Mirette is up to. Mr. Bellini just helps her out. She practices outside on the clothesline. Mr. Bellini was there and then left. He came back and saw her on the clothesline. Mr. Bellini thought of an idea to show her that he¿s not afraid. She comes up there with him. They both do the hire wire together.
Guest More than 1 year ago
How many children's books do you know where the girl (rather than a boy or an animal) saves the day by doing something heroic? Relatively few come to my mind. As the parent of two daughters, I was delighted to find this wonderful tale of 19th century entertainment fills that bill. Ms. McCully had originally set out to write a biography of the famous tightrope walker Blondin, when she decided to write this book instead. The Mirette character is based on her own recollections of being a brave girl. This book contains unusually high quality illustrations, even for a Caldecott Medal Winner (as the best illustrated children's book of 1993). The style shares a great deal with Toulouse-Lautrec but is more appealing because there is more subtlety and use of soft pastel shades. You will definitely feel like you've stepped through the looking glass into a world of entertainment in 1890's Paris. The story opens to find Mirette helping her mother keep a boardinghouse for entertainers (traveling players for the theaters and music halls) called Gateau's. 'Acrobats, jugglers, actors, and mimes from as far away as Moscow and New York' stayed and ate there. What a wonderful place for a child! Mirette, unfortunately, had the not so exciting tasks of 'washing linens, chopping leeks, paring potatoes, and mopping floors.' She was 'a good listener, too.' One day, Bellini (a retired high-wire walker) came to stay. 'I am here for a rest.' Soon, he had set up his wire in the back and was practicing. He refused to teach Mirette when she asked to learn. 'Once you start, your feet are never happy again on the ground.' She replied, 'My feet are already unhappy on the ground.' While he was away sometimes she would practice. After weeks of falls and problems, she could go across the whole wire. She showed him. He responded. 'Most give up. But you kept trying. Perhaps you have talent as well.' His key advice: 'Never let your eyes stray.' 'Think only of the wire, and of crossing to the end.' When she says she'll never fall again, he warns her not to boast. Later an agent from Astley's Hippodrome in London comes to Gateau's and recognizes Bellini. The agent recounts some of his many feats including crossing Niagara Falls on a 1000 foot wire in 10 minutes, and cooking an omelet on a stove of live coals on the way back. He had also toasted the crowd with champagne. Bellini had crossed the Alps on another occasion. Further, he had fired a cannon from the wire over the bullring in Barcelona, and crossed a flaming wire blind-folded in Naples. Ah! Oh exciting! There's only one problem: He has lost his 'nerves of an iceberg.' Encouraged by the agent, Bellini plans a comeback. He walks out on the wire and freezes. What next? Mirette saves the day by reaching her hands out to him, and meeting him on the wire. The book's final page shows a poster of Mirette and Bellini saying that they are wire walkers who do 'stupendous feats.' A little girl looks up at the poster. As you can see, this is quite a good story, and works in Mirette's heroism in a natural way. The character development is quite good, and the historical context is interesting. Children often wonder what people did for entertainment before television. As a parent, you may want to make a little addition to the story that, of course, Mirette's mother joined them in traveling around to do the act. Otherwise, this story could be incorrectly construed as encouraging young girls to go traveling around with grown men. The great lesson in this book is focus. Where would that lesson help your child? Where would it help you? Use your focus to live your most positive dreams! Donald Mitchell, co-author of The Irresistible Growth Enterprise and The 2,000 Percent Solution
Guest More than 1 year ago
Elizabeth Diggs, Harvey Schmidt, and Tom Jones wrote a musical based on this books. Lyric stage in Irving Texas preformed the play in October of 1999, it starred Ellen Morgan and Leslie Alexander. I helped out on props, it is the best play I have ever seen in my life, read the book it is wonderful.