January 14, 2013

Monsieur Marceau by Leda Schubert, illustrations by Gerard DuBois

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 1:08 am by suebe2

schubertMonsieur Marceau, Actor Without Words
by Leda Schubert
illustrations by Gerard DuBois
(Roaring Brook Press)

As a boy, Marcel laughed at the antics of Charlie Chaplin.  He wanted to be like Chaplin and thrill crowds and make them laugh.

He mimed in front of his friends and made them laugh.  These friends knew him as Marcel Mangel.  He was only 16 when World War II began and, along with the other residents of Strasbourg, he had to leave his home, walking all the way.  Later, Marcel joined the French underground.  He led Jewish children to safety and helped hide American soldiers.

When the war ended, he was able to study mime.  Sometimes he thought that he chose the silent art form because he was Jewish.  Like those who returned from the camps but refused to discuss their experiences, he too would be silent.

As a silent star, he painted his face white and outlined his eyes with heavy black makeup and his mouth with red. Audiences would be able to read his expressions from a distance.  He performed entire dramas, trudging into heavy winds no one else could feel.  Sometimes he was a tree or a fish.  But whatever he did, he did in silence, his actions communicating better than words with audiences of many nationalities and languages.

I didn’t know much about Marceau when I picked this up but I like Schubert’s books.  I wasn’t disappointed.  She clearly anchored his life in history and also showed the world wide importance of art as a means of communication.

Gerard Dubois’ paintings clearly communicate not only the range of emotions show by Marceau in his performances but also his joy at Chaplin, the grim realities of war and more.

An excellent choice for any child interested in the performing arts and also a good choice for reading aloud.



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