Mirette on the High Wire
By Emily Arnold McCully
Mirette on the High Wire is a great book, I remember reading this as a child, so when I saw it at the library I immediately grabbed it. It is a Caldecott Award winner, so the pictures are phenomenal. The pictures are realistic paintings, and have a very unique look to them.
This was a really inspiring tale of a young girl who helps a master of the High Wire overcome his fears. One thing I absolutely love, is McCully’s descriptive language. She uses such creative and descriptive phrases; one of my favorites was this one: “Her feet tingled, as if they wanted to jump up on the wire beside Bellini”. This is also personification of her feet. In one of my other classes, we learned about an activity called “Writing through a Mask,” which involves selecting a non-human object and writing through its perspective. This phrase is a great example of that, and could be pulled out of the story and used to help show the students how this style can be very effective. Doing a mini-lesson or writing prompt using this phrase would be a great idea to encourage creative and descriptive writing.
Because this book takes place in France, the names of characters are pretty obviously French. This could be a great way to introduce a social studies, history, art or geography lesson in the classroom. As a non-French person, French really sounds poetic and beautiful to me, and so when I am reading and hearing these French names, it makes the story feel beautiful and poetic as well.
Another thing I really loved about this book is that in the end it is the little girl who helps the adult overcome his fears. This is unusual, and such a great reminder to kids that they can make a difference and help other people too. It shows kids that trying something new and scary (at first) can have great benefits, and we should all go after our dreams. This could also translate into a mini-lesson about kids’ dreams for their futures etc…