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Scholastic Book Guides: Mirette on the Highwire Paperback – Aug 1 2003


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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Scholastic Teaching Resources (Aug. 1 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439571472
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439571470
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 0.3 x 27.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 59 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

Product Description

From Amazon

Mirette and the "Great Bellini" traverse the Paris skyline on high wire in the climactic scene of this picture book about conquering fear. The two meet at Mirette's mother's boarding house, where Bellini is staying with a troupe of traveling performers. Mirette persuades Bellini to teach her his art, and soon enough the two are performing above the rooftops of Paris. While Mirette gets to step outside her daily routine of peeling potatoes and scrubbing floors, Bellini manages to reaffirm his mastery. The story affords a spunky, down-to-earth role model for readers who like to dream big dreams. It also offers rich, scenic portraits of 19th century Paris. The book won the 1993 Caldecott Medal. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers 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.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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First Sentence
One hundred years ago in Paris, when theaters and music halls drew travel-players from all over the world, the best place to stay was at the widow Gateau's a boardinghouse on English Street. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback
I would give this book 3.5 stars for plot. The story's above average but not great, yet definitely worth reading. It is definitely 5 stars for having a very positive female role model - she is hard-working, helpful, extremely responsible (she helps here widowed mother run the guesthouse and when she wants to learn to walk a tightrope, she gets up 2 hours early so she can still finish her chores and have the rest of the day to practice), diligent, and pursues and sticks to her own dreams- teaching herself even when initially rebuffed by Bellini. The book is also one of the few I've seen with a very positive image of a single mother who is very hard-working, conscientious and doing her best to provide for her and her daughter. The book definitely earns 5+ stars for its admirable portrayal of female characters! The book also does a good job of presenting more diverse occupations (the performers) that are not necessarily glamourous or prestigious for their time. (On other diversity measures such as race and heterosexism, the book is not so good but that may be more a reflection of the historical setting of the book and does not necessarily come across as a flaw.) The values modeled by the main character, Mirette, are admirable for anyone to experience - female or male, child or adult. The atypical setting - a turn of the century guest house in Paris for traveling performers - provides a not frequently encountered historical slice of life in picture books. This book is a great transition book from read-aloud picture books to read-aloud chapter books for older preschoolers/kindergardeners or precocious toddlers/young preschoolers. There is a large picture on every page to help maintain interest but the text is longer and more complex than simpler picture books. Also because there are other books in the series, reading one after the other also helps in the transition to chapter books.
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By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on April 19 2001
Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover
Bellini was once the greatest wire-walker in the world. He had "the nerves of an iceberg". He had crossed Niagara Falls, stopping in the middle to cook an omelette. He had crossed the Alps with baskets tied to his feet and even walked a flaming tightrope, blindfolded. But now he has become afraid and "once you have fear on the wire, if never leaves", so he has come to Madame Gateau's boarding house to rest. Her daughter, Mirette is fascinated when she sees Bellini "crossing the courtyard on air". She begs him to teach her to wire-walk, but he refuses telling her that "once you start, your feet are never happy again on the ground". Finally Mirette can't stand it any longer and when Bellini is gone, begins practicing on the tightrope. At first she falls often, but soon shows real talent and learns to run, lie down and even turn a somersault. When Mirette finds out that Bellini was once world famous, she begs him to let her join his act. It is then that he tells her that he can no longer perform...he's afraid. Mirette is devastated and her disappointment is far worse for Bellini than his fear of the wire and so he decides to give it one more try and perform the next night across the rooftops of Paris. As he begins to cross the wire, Bellini becomes paralyzed with fear and can't move. But at that moment, as the crowd goes wild, little Mirette steps out onto the tightrope from the other side and begins walking toward Bellini her arms outstretched. And, as he starts to walk again, the Great Bellini begins to smile..... Award winning author and illustrator, Emily Arnold McCully has written a wonderful story of friendship, determination and excitement as Mirette realizes her dream of performing on the high wire.Read more ›
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