Friday, May 26, 2006
Mirette & Bellini Cross Niagara Falls
Mirette & Bellini Cross Niagara Falls by Emily Arnold McCully, 2000
Before our trip to the Niagara region, I requested any children's books I could find about the area. Sadly, this one did not come in until I returned. I would have enjoyed imagining Bellini (or The Great Blondin) crossing the falls.
This sequel to Mirette on the High Wire begins with Mirette and Bellini befriending a young orphan on the ship bringing them to New York. When Jakob's uncle does not appear to claim him at Ellis Island, Bellini assumes responsibility for him.
As the trio arrives at Niagara Falls to prepare for a wire walk across the falls they hear that another walker, Patch, will also be making the crossing. Jakob uncovers sabotage but cannot get the information to his friends in time.
McCully's research into the real Blondin's crossing of the falls is evoked in her illustrations and plot elements. One illustration of Mirette on Bellini's shoulders is an accurate echo of this photo of Blondin's real crossing.
Her depiction of Table Rock, at the top of the falls beautifully captures the water as it approaches the drop at Horseshoe Falls. I felt like I was standing there again.
As I learned from the latest Alex Rider, ArkAngel, wire walking is equal parts of nerve and physics. With the noise and wind and updraft from the water though, I can only marvel at their bravery (or foolishness.)