Mirette on the high wire

Emily Arnold McCully

Book - 1992

Mirette learns tightrope walking from Monsieur Bellini, a guest in her mother's boarding house, not knowing that he is a celebrated tightrope artist who has withdrawn from performing because of fear.

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Subjects
Genres
Picture books
Published
New York : G.P. Putnamʼs Sons c1992.
Language
English
Main Author
Emily Arnold McCully (-)
Physical Description
unpaged : ill
ISBN
9780399221309
9780613017596
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

Ages 4-7. McCully has created a picture book in a totally different vein than that of Picnic [BKL Ap 1 84] or School [BKL S 1 87]. 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. ~--Kathryn Broderick

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Horn Book Review

An independent female protagonist stars in a wonderfully exuberant picture book set in late ninteenth-century Paris. When a fearful, retired high-wire walker asks for a room at the boarding house run by Mirette's mother, Mirette stubbornly proceeds to teach herself the art despite Bellini's refusal to become her mentor. McCully achieves remarkable effects in creating interior and characters with the watercolor medium. A bravura performance. From HORN BOOK 1992, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

Inspired by the exploits of the daredevil Blondin, an exotic, suspenseful story about the affection and loyalty between teacher and protégée: Mirette learns tightrope-walking from Monsieur Bellini, a famous wirewalker who has lost his nerve and is staying in her mother's Parisian boardinghouse because he can no longer perform. For Mirette's sake, Bellini plans a comeback--a walk across a square from one high rooftop to another--but he freezes on the wire until Mirette dashes up to the opposite roof and walks out to meet him. Intense colors, strong contrasts of light and shadow, and artistes and dandies straight out of Toulouse-Lautrec convey the atmosphere of Paris in la belle époque--a real departure in style and subject matter from McCully's mouse-family adventures. (Picture book. 5-9)

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.