Saturday, September 22, 2012

Monsieur Marceau: Actor Without Words

Monsieur Marceau
Actor Without Words
by Leda Schubert
ill. by Gerard Dubois
New York : Roaring Brook Press, 2012
unpaged picture book biography

Marcel Marceau was without a doubt the most famous mime the world has ever known. He used his facial expressions and body movements to express a multitude of emotions and scenarios. But who was he before he learned to mime? Many are surprised to learn that he worked with the French underground during World War II leading hundreds of Jewish orphans from an orphanage in France to safety in Switzerland.  Some might think that mimes are mimes because they don't like to talk, or maybe even were born mute. Marceau however, loved to talk when he was not performing.   He even said, "Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup." Not everything he said was nonsense. He also said, "Neither laughter nor tears are French, English, Russian, or Japanese." Marceau traveled the world performing in front of royalty, world leaders and everyday people speaking the universal language of his personality.
This picture book biography is a fabulous tribute to an amazingly talented person. The author tells the story simply yet effectively. The gorgeous illustrations do a superb job of depicting the body language and facial expressions of Marceau. If only the illustrator lived in the US, then this would be one of my top picks for Caldecott this year!

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