Like many sequels, Emily Arnold McCully's Starring Mirette & Bellini doesn't quite live up to the original. However, as I haven't seen many picture books that take you to Budapest, Vienna, Paris and St. Petersburg all in one go, it's worth a look.
After their success in Paris, Mirette and Bellini take their show on the road. They dazzle crowds in the great cities of Europe with their funambulatory (How many chances do you have to use that word? Of course I have to milk it.) skills. While in St. Petersburg the harsh political realities of Czarist Russia have serious consequences for the duo and once again, Mirette draws upon her inner strength to help her friend.
Although I liked both the story and the illustrations in the original better, McCully's second book about Mirette and Bellini (there are 3) is interesting and would be useful in conversations about 19th century Russia (you have those conversations with your kids, right?). The themes of freedom and friendship may be slightly more relevant, but I also just enjoyed the lovely illustrations of the performers on the high wire near famous European city landmarks.
Read my review of the original, Mirette on the High Wire.
Take a look at the third book, Mirette and Bellini Cross Niagara Falls.
Visit the author's website.
Big Kid says: What is a Czar?