Mirette on the High Wire

by Emily Arnold McCully

Paperback, 1997



Call number




Putnam Publishing Group,U.S. (1997), Edition: Illustrated, 32 pages


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Monsieur Bellini, a guest in her mother's boarding house, not knowing that he is a celebrated tightrope artist who has withdrawn from performing because of fear.

User reviews

LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
When a tall, sad-faced stranger comes to live at the boarding house run by her mother in nineteenth-century Paris, young Mirette Gâteau quickly discovers that there is more to this new lodger than meets the eye. Happening upon him practicing the high-wire in the courtyard, Mirette is enchanted,
Show More
and asks him to teach her. Undaunted by his refusal, she sets out to teach herself, eventually inspiring Monsieur Bellini - the "Great Bellini" himself, once the world's foremost high-wire artist, but now fallen on hard times after losing his nerve - to try to make a comeback.

An engaging tale of friendship, dreaming big, and trying again when things have gone wrong, Mirette on the Highwire was awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1993, and it's not difficult to see why. Emily Arnold McCully makes excellent use of color (Mirette's blue dress really stands out, in every scene in which she appears) and light in her watercolor artwork, which ably conveys the atmosphere of a Paris neighborhood, "one hundred years ago," and captures the magic of performing on the high-wire. I don't know that it will ever make any of my "favorites" lists, but overall I found it charming, in both story and illustration.
Show Less
LibraryThing member aflanig1
Great story about overcoming your fears and chasing after dreams
LibraryThing member kacu04
This book starts out about a little girl that lives in a boarding house in England. There were travelers that came to stay there. One day a man showed up that was an old high wire walker and asked to stay. He walked on the clothes line one day and showed the little girl how because she wanted to
Show More
learn. This man got recognized one day and the little girl heard about all the wonderful things he did. She asked him why he did not do those things anymore and it was because he was scared of the wire. Then the little girl helped him conquer his fear and the two of them got an act together on the high wire.

This book is a good book but there are some difficult words that might be hard for children starting out reading. This book has some intresting information about it. This book also teaches a lesson to try again and do not give up even if you fall.

This book would be good for children that can handle different words. This would not be a book I would read aloud to a classroom.
Show Less
LibraryThing member jodyjlittle
This story, set in 19th century Paris, tells the story of Mirette, a young girl who lives in a boarding house that houses acrobats, jugglers and other entertainers. One day a mysterious man arrives who keeps to himself. When Mirette finds him walking on a wire across the courtyard, she is entranced
Show More
by his skills and she pleads with him to teach her. Day in and day out she practices and soon becomes quite confident in her wire walking skills. One day a talent agent arrives and tells the boardinghouse visitors that the mysterious man is the great Bellini, the man who once walked a tight wire across Niagra Falls. When Mirette asks Bellini why he no longer does his daring feats, Bellini admits that he is afraid. Finally, he gathers his courage to perform another feat, but he freezes as he steps onto the wire. Fortunately, Mirette is there. She crosses the wire and meets the great Bellini half-way. She has truly become his protege.
Show Less
LibraryThing member LDGardner
The Great Bellini, once a master on the high wire, takes a room at the Boardinghouse run by Mirette's mother in Paris. He seems sad. He keeps to himself, and when he does go out on the high wire, he refuses to teach Mirette his talent. She is so fascinated by the art and so determined to learn,
Show More
though, that she begins to teach herself. Once Bellini observes her talent, he coaches her more, but gravely warns her of becoming too proud. Finally, he admits to her that he no longer does great shows because he has developed a fear that did not always afflict him. Mirette encourages him to face his fear, but he is reluctant. However, Mirette means so much to him that he realizes that he must face his fear in order to set a good example for her and help her to succeed. He arranges a sort of 'comeback' show which the whole city watches. Mid-wire, though, he freezes with fear, and Mirette is the only one who can help him. She walks out and faces him so that he has the strength to carry on. In the end, they begin doing high wire shows together.
Show Less
LibraryThing member gkuhns
This book is set in late 19th century France and details the adventure of a young girl who learns to walk the high wire and rescues her mentor in the process. The vibrancy of the watercolor illustrations and their fuzzed lines infuses the book with the excitement and rush of Mirette’s boarding
Show More
house childhood, bringing it to life. Although the narration is third person, the point of view is entirely Mirette’s. The reader experiences the world as young Mirette does. The book shows how people can positively influence and help one another. It examines the themes of courage and of overcoming fears. The colorful illustrations and exotic plot make this book a good choice for reading aloud to younger elementary school students.
Show Less
LibraryThing member pvhslibrarian
Kirkus Review 10/15/1992

Inspired by the exploits of the daredevil Blondin, an exotic, suspenseful story about the affection and loyalty between teacher and protegee: Mirette learns tightrope-walking from Monsieur Bellini, a famous wirewalker who has lost his nerve and is staying in her mother's
Show More
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 epoque--a real departure in style and subject matter from McCully's mouse-family adventures. (Picture book. 5-9)

Personal Review:

Watching a guest at her mother's boardinghouse walking a tightrope suspended above a courtyard inspires Mirette to learn how to achieve such a feat. What she doesn't know is that the man is the Great Bellini, who is taking a break from performing when fear overtakes him after a fall. Yet Mirette is determined and committed to following in his steps. McCully's bright and colorful watercolors carry the reader over the rooftops of nineteenth-century Paris and into the heart of a determined and brave little girl.
Show Less
LibraryThing member kmacneill
This book is set in France in the late 19th century. It’s about a little girl who’s mother owns a boardinghouse. A man named Bellini, comes to stay at the boardinghouse. One day Mirette sees him walking on a rope and becomes determined to do the same. Her teacher, Bellini, has let fear stop him
Show More
from tight rope walking. One night he decides to do a tight rope but is overcome with fear in the middle of it. Mirette rushes to help him and crosses the high wire along with him. This is a great read aloud. Kids will enjoy the curious, brave Mirette.
Show Less
LibraryThing member aezeek
Mirette is a little girl who is captivated by the bizarre and interesting people who stay in her mother's boardinghouse in Paris. One day, a man named Bellini quickly grasps Mirette’s undivided attention. He somehow walks across the clothesline outside with the grace and ease of a tiny bird!
Show More
Mirette decides that she, too, wants to “dance across the air” and asks Bellini to teach her how to walk the clothesline. She practices hard every day to accomplish this goal, but when Mirette discovers that fear has kept Bellini from performing for years, she sets out to show him that sometimes a student can be the greatest teacher of all.
Show Less
LibraryThing member vabrazzolotto
This is a really cute book about a young girl who meets a high wire walker who stays at her mother's bed and breakfast type place. Bellini, the high wire walker ends up teaching Mirette, the girl, how to walk on a high wire. The two end up performing together.
LibraryThing member cemccamy
A young girl discovers that a famous tightrope performer is staying in her monther's boarding house. She longs to walk on the high wire as he does. Mirette ends up helping Bellini overcome his fear.
LibraryThing member jjuran
This is the story of a little girl Mirette who dreams of becoming a tight rope walker. She lives in Paris with her mother who runs a boarding house. One day a man named Bellini comes to stay, and it turns out that he is a world-famous daredevil tight rope walker. Mirette teacher herself to walk the
Show More
rope, and then befriends Bellini. He has retired because he is now afraid when walking the tight rope. At the end of the story he plans his return, only to freeze in fear when the time comes. Mirette comes to his aide, and walks out on the rope to meet him. The last picture in the book is of a poster advertising the show "Mirette and Bellini: Wire Walkers." It was a very cute story of following your dreams, and faces the challenges they present.
Show Less
LibraryThing member lorren.jackson
Mirette is a young girl who met the great Bellini who was a high-wire walker. She wanted to be like him so she tried to walk the high-wire and fell the first time, but that didn't make her give up. Everyday she practiced on the high-wire. Bellini taught her many tricks to do on the rope.
Show More
Bellini performed in front of Mirette's home town and she climbed on the high-wire and her and Bellini walked it while the crowed roared. In the end Mirette and Bellini went on tour around the world.

Personal Reaction:
This story is a great illustration to show how someone should never give up. If you fail at your first attempt at something then you should keep trying and not give up. This story also shows the "practice makes perfect."

Classroom Extension:
1. This books provides a great example on how you shouldn't give up on something on the first try. The teacher could explain on how the more practice someone has then the better they will succeed.
2. In the classroom, the teacher could have their students make a list of things that they want to become better at, and what they will do to achieve that.
Show Less
LibraryThing member KarriesKorner
Mirette on the High Wire takes place a hundred years ago in Paris, France and the watercolor illustrations are the perfect compliment to the story. As I read the story about a young girl who meets the tightrope walker, Bellini, I felt like I was in France. The subtle details, like the clothing the
Show More
character wear, make the story believable and engaging. The bright color contrasting with darker tones make this a very pleasurable visual experience.

The story of Mirette and Bellini is one of hardship, friendship, courage and strength. A little girl befriends a sad and troubled man, and they help each reach goals and fulfill dreams as they both walk a tightrope to save each other.

A beautiful book that will engage students with the illustrations and the story.
Show Less
LibraryThing member megjwal
Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully

This Caldecott winner is about a young girl named Mirette, who works in her mother’s boardinghouse. She gets to listen to all of the actors, actresses, mimes, acrobats, and jugglers tell stories of their experiences. One day a stranger named
Show More
Bellini, a retired high-wire walker asked to stay in the boarding house. Mirette goes out to get the laundry and sees Bellini walking on the laundry wire. She begs him to teach her to walk on the wire. He refuses at first and then agrees to teach her. Bellini tells Mirette he is afraid of the wire, but decides to face his fear. He walks across a wire connected to the roof tops in Paris. Mirette sees him freeze with fear in the middle and hurries up to walk to him. In the end, Mirette and Bellini start doing performances together all over the world.

I enjoyed the excitement and adventure of the book. I personally love roller coasters and things that look challenging, so it gives me real excitement just imagining what it might be like to walk on a high-wire. It is wonderful to consider what is possible for use to do, by reading a book.

I would use this book to in the classroom to encourage the students that whatever they put their mind to with practice, they can do it. I would discuss the effort it took Mirette to learn how to walk on the high-wire. I would also mention how much it said she had to practice and how many times she fell. This book really meets the phrase, “If at first you don’t succeed try, try again.”
Show Less
LibraryThing member weeksie50
Mirette is a young girl who works at a boarding home. One day she sees a man walking on a wire, just a little bit off the ground. She begs him to teach her but he says he will not, so she sets off to learn on her own. Along the way the two become friends and he begins to show how how to walk the
Show More
highwire. It turns out he is the most famous High Wire Walker but he does not do it anymore. He confinds in Mirette that he no longer walks the high wire because he has lost his courage. Mirette helps him find it again.

It is a lovely story.
Show Less
LibraryThing member jaimefabey
McCully tells a story about Mirette, a girl living in 19th Century Paris in a boarding house that hosts many traveling performers. Mirette convinces a tight rope walking boarder to teach her the act. Her teacher Bellini turns out to be the world famous "Great Bellini." Mirette helps ease the stress
Show More
put on Bellini and becomes a great tight rope walker.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Jdonldsn
You will hold your breath when Mirette steps out onto the high wire above a crowd in Paris to help a gentleman, who has lost faith in himself. This charming book chases fears and doubts away, and leaves you cheering for courage!
LibraryThing member michelle.smith
Caldecott Medal 1993, This young girl is determined to walk one the high wire when the Great Bellini comes to stay at her mother's boarding house. The illustrations are very capitvating. You can following the story line by just looking at the pictures.
LibraryThing member McKennaMiller
I really liked this book because of the amazing illustrations and circus like magic. Although, I think it was very unwise for Bellini to encourage her to wire walk... it's a little dangerous.
LibraryThing member RayJones63
Mirette is a little girl who lives with her mother, the madame of a boarding house in 19th century France. One day “The Great Belinni” comes to visit and someone recognizes him. He hides his talent, but Mirette is interested in tightrope walking and also sees that he still wants to try. She is
Show More
captured by him, but she also realizes that he is afraid. She helps him gain the courage to keep tight rope walking.
Show Less
LibraryThing member elpowers
Okay, but not great. Pretty pictures but story lacks depth.
LibraryThing member phoenixcomet
Inspired by tightrope walker Charles Blondin, Mirette on the High Wire, has Bellini coming to Mirette's mother's boarding house and teaching Mirette how to walk the high wire. Turns out Bellini once was world famous and walked the high wire across Niagara Falls, but now he's lost his nerve. Thanks
Show More
to a brave act by Mirette, he gets his nerve back again.
Show Less
LibraryThing member mdgilmor
Mirette is a very determined young lady. She learns from the great Bellini not only how to walk on the high wire, but how to get past any fears and excel at her passion. The beautiful watercolor illustrations really add to the early French setting of the book.
LibraryThing member Bethany1221
Mirette on the High Wire is a cute story. The illustrations are wonderful and happen to be done in water color. The story is about a girl who happens to live where the great high walker Bellini has chosen to stay for a few days. SHe learns how to high walk and encourages Bellini never to give up
Show More
and to try hard when he doubts that he can ever high walk again. The ending was a happy ending that will make any child smile!
Show Less


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

10.25 inches


0698114434 / 9780698114432

Similar in this library

Page: 0.5092 seconds