In Mirette on the High Wire, the Great Bellini, a high-wire performer, has lost his courage to walk the wire. By contrast, the young Mirette becomes fascinated by the wire and takes every spare moment to practice. A friendship between the old funambulist (There's a new word for you!) and the young one forms and Bellini confesses his fear to Mirette. When Bellini decides to face his fear and perform again, he finds out too late that he is not quite ready. It takes an act of courage by Mirette to help Bellini find his former strength. This book resonated on many levels for me: it has a heroine, it is a tale of courage, friendship and perseverance and there are some great button-up boots!
The hustle and bustle of late 19th century Paris forms an excellent backdrop to this story. The urban setting provides the necessary crowds of spectators for the final scene and of course there is something exhilarating about being able to rise above the surge of people and tangle of city building.
Emily Arnold McCully's Caldecott Award winning illustrations reminded me a bit of Toulouse-Lautrec and his vibrant Parisian world of entertainment.
Big Kid says: That looks dangerous.
Want more high wire action? Try Mirette and Bellini Cross Niagara Falls, and The Man Who Walked between the Towers.