His face is painted white, with triangular eyebrows in always-quizzical arches, and red-red lips. A crumpled hat with a frowsy red flower rests on his cropped dark hair. He wears white trousers, a striped shirt, and a short double-breasted jacket with six large buttons parading across his thin chest. He is Bip, the creation of the greatest actor who never spoke, Marcel Marceau.
Marcel Marceau was born in France and from a very young age loved to entertain others. Charlie Chaplin was his hero. Even as a young man, caught up in the terrors of World War II, Marceau made use of his creative talents in the French Resistance, doctoring identity cards and playing make-believe with the children he led out of France right under the Nazi soldiers’ noses.
After the war, and time studying the art of mime, Marceau devoted himself to performing. He created his famous character, Bip, and began winning over audiences around the world. Almost certainly, when you think of mime, you picture Marceau as Bip.
Gloria Spielman has written a wonderful introduction to Marceau, beginning with his childhood penchant for costume, taking us through the key moments in his life, until his death in 2007. It’s a well-ordered, well-chosen selection of detail, a lovely look at an intriguing man which will peak readers’ curiosity to know more.
Manon Gauthier’s appealing mixed media illustrations have a soft, simple childlike quality echoing the unadorned world of mime and the clowning Marceau loved to do. There is a gentle happiness to her work that provides a perfect accompaniment to
Marceau’s art. Several color photographs are a welcome addition, giving readers the chance to really see him.
Here’s a youtube clip of Bip as lion tamer for your enjoyment.
And here’s the Amazon link for this book, a great choice for ages 5 and up:Marcel Marceau: Master of Mime (Kar-Ben Biographies)