What child hasn’t pretended to be a circus performer? Taming lions! Walking tightropes! Flying on the trapeze! Today, for Perfect Picture Book Friday, in the center ring, all the way from France, in the midst of a revolution, with captivating illustrations and the wonder of well-chosen words….I give you Madame Saqui!
Title: Madame Saqui: Revolutionary Rope Dancer
Written by: Lisa Robinson
Illustrated by: Rebecca Green
Schwartz & Wade, 2020
Suitable for ages: 4-8
Themes/topics: dreams, circus, France
In 1791, in Paris, inside le Théâtre des Grands Danseurs du Roi, five-year-old Marguerite-Antoinette Lalanne was making her debut.
High above, her mother and father danced across a tightrope.
The crowd cheered.
Marguerite waved and bowed and vowed that one day she would dance on a tightrope, too.
In revolutionary France, a girl named Marguerite Lalanne longed to perform above large crowds on a tightrope, just like her acrobatic parents. Sneaking off to the fairgrounds for secret tightrope walking lessons, Marguerite finessed her performance skills, ultimately performing for crowds as a young rope dancer. And eventually, Marguerite would perform as Madame Saqui, waltzing and pirouetting across- and never falling off- countless ropes above adoring crowds. A nouvelle chérie de Paris, Madame Saqui cemented her place in circus history, winning the adoration of the French people and royalty alike, including Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.
Activities and Resources:
After reading this book, kids will want to stage their own circus. What are their special talents? How can they use those talents to uplift others?
Generate a list of circus performers. What would you like to be? Why?
Why I like this book:
Lovely word work and charming illustrations carry us through this little known story of a circus star in revolutionary France. Marguerite is spunky and takes initiative from beginning to end. Fearless, no one could shut her down – not as a child, not as a female, not as an old woman. Timely and timeless, this story showcases the power of a positive attitude and how the arts can lift spirits in times of trouble.
Come back next week to hear from author Lisa Robinson on the writing of this story!
Visit author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books for a plethora of picture books listed by title and topic/theme, each with teacher/parent activities and resources.