Monsieur Marceau: Actor Without Words

Monsieur Marceau: Actor Without Words

Book Information

Neal Porter/Roaring Brook Press September 2012

“Later, Marceau joined the French underground and its efforts to resist the Nazis. He led hundreds of Jewish children from an orphanage in France to safety in Switzerland. They pretended they were going on vacation, often disguised as boy scouts. He helped hide American parachutists in a French monastery until the war ended. Then he changed his last name from Mangel to Marceau so that people wouldn’t know he was Jewish.”

It is so exciting and satisfying to read this exceptional picture book biography about Marcel Marceau, someone I’ve never known anything about beyond his artistry. And God bless YouTube. For after reading forty wonderfully illustrated pages about the life and art of Marcel Marceau (including some exceptionally informative back matter), all I wanted to do next was to see the world’s greatest mime in action. “He walks against the wind, but there is no wind.” (If you told me back in the sixties -- when I’d occasionally run across him performing on TV -- that someday I’d be able to instantly view dozens of his or anyone’s past performances with a mere tap of a finger, well…)

“Offstage, he loved to talk. He once said, ‘Never get a mime talking. He won’t stop.’ He said, ‘The mime must make reality into dreams and dreams into reality.’ And he said, ‘Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.’”

With just the perfect length of text and a wealth of expressive illustrations, MONSIEUR MARCEAU shows so effectively the magic made by the man who was inspired by Charlie Chaplin and who, as a young man, created a character named Bip who was just as enduring as The Little Tramp. And it is pretty amazing and fun to go from looking at the illustration of Marceau as a youngster in France watching a Chaplin film, to watching the YouTube video of the elderly Marceau doing a bit of miming on camera alongside Michael Jackson. In conveying through image and words the story of a performer and a human of the highest order, MONSIEUR MARCEAU is a picture book bio that is not to be missed.  40 pages  978-1-59643-529-2

Recommended by: Richie Partington, MLIS, Librarian, California USA

See more of his recommendations at: Richie's Picks _ (

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