Tag Archives: enchanting

Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McGully

8 Feb

Book Cover

Mirette on The Wire by Emily Arnold McGully makes me remember what it is to dream as a child. This story set in nineteenth century Paris focuses on Mirette, a little girl raised in a hotel. Mirette catches a glimpse of the great Bellini, an accomplished high wire walker and upon seeing Bellini on the high wire Mirette is mesmerized. Mirette is determined to walk across the wire, but she soon realizes it is more challenging than it looks. Determined to walk the wire Mirette practices and practices to learn the skills it takes and develop the courage she needs to succeed. This story is simply enchanting in setting, characters and illustrations. The illustrations are pure whimsy conveying the playfulness of the story and the beautiful imagery of nineteenth century Paris. This story was awarded the Caldecott in 1993. Recommended.

Suggested Library Activity:

Use this book to introduce and discuss Impressionistic painters. Have students create their own painting of something they have always wanted to learn and accomplish.

Bibliographic Citation:

McCully, E. (2007). Mirette on the high wire. New York: G.P. Putnamʼs Sons.

Additional Book 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

School Library Journal (October 1992)