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Mirette on the Highwire (Caldecott Medal Book) [Hardcover]

By Emily Arnold McCully (Author)
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Item description for Mirette on the Highwire (Caldecott Medal Book) by Emily Arnold McCully...

Mirette learns tightrope walking from Monsieur Bellini, a guest in her mother's boarding house, not knowing that he is a celebrated tightrope artist

Publishers Description
One day, a mysterious stranger arrives at a boardinghouse of the widow Gateau- a sad-faced stranger, who keeps to himself. When the widow's daughter, Mirette, discovers him crossing the courtyard on air, she begs him to teach her how he does it.
But Mirette doesn't know that the stranger was once the Great Bellini- master wire- walker. Or that Bellini has been stopped by a terrible fear. And it is she who must teach him courage once again.
Emily Arnold McCully's sweeping watercolor paintings carry the reader over the rooftops of nineteenth-century Paris and into an elegant, beautiful world of acrobats, jugglers, mimes, actors, and one gallant, resourceful little girl.

Awards and Recognitions
Mirette on the Highwire (Caldecott Medal Book) by Emily Arnold McCully has received the following awards and recognitions -
  • Caldecott Medal - 1993 Winner - Picture Book category

Citations And Professional Reviews
Mirette on the Highwire (Caldecott Medal Book) by Emily Arnold McCully has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Wilson Children's Catalog - 01/01/2010 page 1431
  • Wilson Children's Catalog - 01/01/1993 page 89
  • Wilson Children's Catalog 96 - 01/01/1996 page 708
  • Booklist - 11/15/1992 page 609
  • Booklist - 03/15/1993 page 1326
  • School Library Journal - 10/01/1992 page 92
  • Wilson Children's Catalog - 01/01/2001 page 657
  • Hornbook Guide to Children - 01/01/1992
  • Publishers Weekly - 10/26/1992
  • Wilson Children's Catalog - 01/01/2006 page 946

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Putnam Juvenile
Pages   32
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 11.32" Width: 8.22" Height: 0.38"
Weight:   0.95 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Oct 21, 1992
Publisher   Putnam Juvenile
Age  4-8
ISBN  0399221301  
ISBN13  9780399221309  
UPC  048228016991  

Availability  0 units.

More About Emily Arnold McCully

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Emily Arnold McCully was born in Galesburg, Illinois, and grew up -a daredevil child, - always climbing trees or buildings. She made it to college intact, however, and received her B.A. from Brown University and an M.A. in art history from Columbia University.

Emily McCully's artwork has been included in the International Biennale at Bratislava, and she has won a Christopher Award for Picnic, one of the many picture books that she has both written and illustrated.

Writing also for adults, Ms. McCully has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and New York State Council on the Arts. Her book, A Craving was nominated for an American Book Award.

The idea for Mirette on the High Wire began as a biography of real-life daredevil Blondin. But the author changed her mind to accomodate the tree-climbing child and risk-taking adult she was and is.

copyright ? 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.

Emily Arnold McCully currently resides in Chatham, in the state of New York.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Children > Ages 4-8 > General
2Books > Subjects > Children > Ages 4-8 > Picture Books
3Books > Subjects > Children > Arts & Music > Performing Arts > Fiction
4Books > Subjects > Children > Authors & Illustrators, A-Z > ( M ) > McCully, Emily Arnold
5Books > Subjects > Children > Literature > Action & Adventure
6Books > Subjects > Children > Literature > Classics by Age > General
7Books > Subjects > Children > Literature > Classics by Age
8Books > Subjects > Children > People & Places > Social Situations > Emotions & Feelings > Fiction

Reviews - What do customers think about Mirette on the Highwire (Caldecott Medal Book)?

Wonderful  May 10, 2008
What an absolutely gorgeous book. Not only does it have beautiful, Paris-inspired illustrations, but it was one of those stories with the good ol' fashioned message of trying your hardest. Many other reviews here have discussed the gentle meaning of the story's history in comparison with other books, but I would just like to second that. Despite controversy of the Two Towers concept, this truly celebrates our history and our country and just what seemingly ordinary buildings mean. But this is also the story of a young girl determined to do something truly brave. It's inspirational and full of heart. Indeed, this book is about triumph over everything.
by Marianne Petersen  Nov 13, 2007
In the children's book Mirette on the High Wire, Emily Arnold McCully uses the setting, characterization, and illustrations to appeal to her young audience's sense of pathos and help them to believe in their own abilities.

Nineteenth-century Paris is filled with colorful people and professions, many of which Mirette has the opportunity to interact with as she works in her mother's boarding house. McCully depends on the reader's limited knowledge of culture to know at once the feelings and emotions associated with Paris. The reader therefore begins the story feeling wistful and romantic. The large variety of boarders is impressive; "acrobats, jugglers, actors, and mimes from as far away as Moscow and New York" fill the dining room and Mirette grows up hearing their stories of far-away adventures and marvelous feats of the entertainment industry. But what enchants Mirette is the tall, quiet, retired high-wire walker. By setting Mirette in such a romantic city and with such varied company, the author appeals to the reader's sense of pathos and the reader already has an emotional attachment to Mirette's environment.

McCully sets up an excellent contrast between the reluctant Bellini and the determined Mirette that highlights how the two need each other in order to succeed. The reader is first introduced to the spirited side of Mirette when, in a moment when Bellini is not on the wire, Mirette jumps up to try it and falls within a few seconds. Instead of becoming discouraged, Mirette recalls how easily Bellini walked on the wire and reasons that "she too could do it if she kept trying." Her tenacity makes up for her beginning lack of skill, and soon she can walk the length of the wire without falling. Bellini recognizes that Mirette will not give up, so he begins to coach her on technique and mindset. "'Never let your eyes stray,'" he says. "'Think only of the wire, and of crossing to the end.'" His coaching, coupled with her determination, helps her to progress very quickly in her skills, and soon Mirette begs to be taken with Bellini on his world tours. But his fear keeps him from being able to perform, and the disappointed Mirette pleads with him to overcome it, only to receive the tired reply that he cannot. After intense inward struggle, Bellini knows that "if he did not face his fear at last, he could not face Mirette." Her love of the wire and dedication to it inspires Bellini to try one last time. Without her, Bellini would not have found the courage he needed to conquer his fear and enjoy his passion once again.

The illustrations emphasize how the hopes of both Mirette and Bellini rise and fall, contributing to the reader's sense of despair and finally triumph. At the beginning of the story, the illustrations are grounded--that is, they portray everyday events at everyday height: eye level. As the story progresses and Mirette discovers her love for the high wire, the pictures are mostly of her above the ground, with the afternoon sky as a brilliant backdrop. The illustrations correspond with Mirette's rising hopes for herself. At the central conflict, the pictures are grounded again, and McCully uses shadow to show how dark the fear and despair make the characters feel. There is a source of light in both pictures, but the characters themselves are in the dark and are almost a part of the background as the eye is drawn to the light source. The author invokes the reader's sense of pathos to get her to sympathize with the frightened Bellini and the frustrated Mirette. The final illustration of the book features only the starry skyline of Paris, with the two characters, seemingly lit from the inside, crossing the wire toward each other. This suggests that both have found what they love because the light radiates from them instead of the previous illustrations where it merely shines on them. The height of the picture also indicates that they are happier than they have ever been, and this happiness translates to the reader as she discovers that Mirette achieved her dream through persistence and determination. Now all things seem possible to the young girl who has read Mirette's story, and she begins to believe in herself and her own abilities.
The Power of Practice  Jan 26, 2007
Mirette is a young girl who works in her mother's hotel. This hotel is frequented by entertainers and performers. One day an interesting man checks in. Mirette discovers him walking on the clothesline one day and becomes fascinated with wire walking. She gives it a try and promptly falls off. She keeps trying and trying during every free moment and gradually gets better.

When she learns the new guest is the greatest wire walker of all time, Mirette pleads for him to teach her. He is reluctant at first but, having seen her dedication to practice, relents and begins to teach her and eventually Mirette learns his dark secret. I won't give away the ending so you will have to read it to find out.

The story is entertaining and the illustrations are delightful. But what I really like about this book is that it does a better job than so many others at showing how long practice can take and how willing someone has to be to undertake it. Too many books seem to have the character become a great ball player, ballerina, magician, whatever in almost no time at all. We use this book when one of our kids gets disgruntled over not learning a new instrument on the third try or some such thing. All in all a fun book with a good lesson to be leaned (and it won't take months to learn it).
Great Reading  Jan 7, 2007
This book is great. My class enjoyed hearing the story. Good to use with science activities.
"Mirette on the Highwire" is entertaining and profound.  Dec 1, 2006
Emily Arnold McCully's MIRETTE ON THE HIGH WIRE is entertaining and profound. McCully conjures up a thrilling story with a premise that seems to suggest overcoming fear. Plotting a young girl inspiring a famous wire-walker is fresh and pleasant, and may evoke appreciation for the collaboration of young prodigy and old artists. McCully's watercolor illustrations are slightly abstract, but full of tone and vigor. Shadows are distinguished, and the contrast between ground and height can be differentiated. These lavish illustrations change consistently covering two thirds of each page. The conflict in this book is engaging because it is reasonable and believable, and it transpires between a young girl and a famous adult, prompting the question of who is in charge. Mirette's assertiveness is not insolent but provocatively charming. Employing a young girl and a man as main characters enriches McCully's plot with an avuncular flare and renders a more intriguing story. This book received a 1993 Caldecott Medal Book honor.


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