Mirette on the High Wire

CALDECOTT MEDAL WINNER – 1993

Mirette on the High Wire

by Emily Arnold McCully

New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1992

Age: 4+

Interests: Paris, circus performers, tightrope walkers, plucky heroines

Next: sequels Starring Mirette and Bellini, and Mirette and Bellini Cross Niagara Falls

Mirette helps her mother run a boardinghouse in turn of the (last) century Paris. Their residents are circus people, acrobats, jugglers, actors and mimes from all over the world. Mirette does her work diligently but also loves to eavesdrop on the performers telling stories. One day Monsieur Bellini, a retired tightrope walker moves in. Mirette sees him on a wire one day and is transfixed. She will not rest until she can walk on a wire too, and practices every day until she convinces him to teach her some tricks of the trade. It turns out that Bellini grew afraid of falling and retired at the peak of a renowned career. Because of Mirette’s urging, Bellini decides to face his fears and perform once more. A wire is strung above the street and a crowd gathers but Bellini freezes on his first step. Mirette rushes up to encourage him, stepping out on the wire herself. They do the act together to great acclaim and a new tightrope walking duo is born.

An atmospheric story about artistry and dedication. Mirette is a determined, plucky heroine, and Bellini is shy and enigmatic. The romance of walking in the air and the love that Bellini and Mirette feel for their art are convincingly conveyed. Period details convey the look of ‘la Belle Époque’ in Paris. On the last page a small girl gazes at a poster advertising “Mirette and Bellini, Wire Walkers – Stupendous Feats”, only suggesting the later career of the two. Two sequels followed later, about their career together.

(This title for purchase on amazon.)

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. aneducationinbooks
    Mar 02, 2012 @ 14:16:15

    Lovely book!

    Reply

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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.
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