Madame Saqui: Revolutionary Rope Dancer
Eighteenth-century circus child Marguerite-Antoinette Lalanne wants to be a tightrope dancer. Her resolution is so firm that even after her circus performer parents forbid it—they do not want her to suffer a career-ending fall like her father—she finds another teacher, studies in secret, and is up on a tightrope performing by age nine. In this way she resuscitates the fortunes of her family, who form a new circus around her. She wins fame and performs through adulthood on into her 70s: “Madame Saqui simply could not say farewell.” Robinson (Pirates Don’t Go to Kindergarten!
) provides background about the French Revolution, explaining how it affects the family’s fortunes (“as riots erupted through the city’s streets, the Lalannes fled to the countryside”). At the height of her fame, Madame Saqui becomes Napoleon’s favorite acrobat, reenacting military battles on her tightrope. Mixed media illustrations by Green (A Year with Mama Earth
) in dusky pastels provide period atmosphere with fancy costumes, dramatic lighting, and figures that look just a bit like marionettes. It’s an excursion into a long-ago era, but the iron determination of this story’s hero feels very modern. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Alyssa Eisner Henkin, Trident Media Group. Illustrator’s agent: Nicole Tugeau, Tugeau 2. (Mar.)