Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 29, 2020

Book Giveaway: Madame Saqui: Revolutionary Rope Dancer by Lisa Robinson

Lisa Robinson’s debut nonfiction picture book is MADAME SAQUI, REVOLUTIONARY ROPEDANCER, illustrated by Rebecca Green and published by Random House/Schwartz and Wade hit book shelves on March 24th. Lisa has agreed to share a copy with one lucky winner. All you have to do to get in the running is leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you do to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter, reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. Thanks for helping Lisa and Rebecca, especially at this stressful time when authors and illustrators need to promote their books completely online.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. Thanks!


A stunning picture book biography about the tightrope walker who dazzled Paris as she danced across the sky with impeccable balance and unparalleled skill during the French Revolution.

In revolutionary France, a girl named Marguerite Lalanne longed to perform above large crowds on a tightrope, just like her acrobatic parents. Sneaking off to the fairgrounds for secret tightrope walking lessons, Marguerite finessed her performance skills, ultimately performing for crowds as a young rope dancer. And eventually, Marguerite would perform as Madame Saqui, waltzing and pirouetting across- and never falling off- countless ropes above adoring crowds. Her daring feats—including walking across the Seine and between the towers of Notre Dame—led to her becoming a darling of Parisians and a favorite of Emperor Napoleon. A nouvelle chérie de Paris, Madame Saqui cemented her place in circus history, winning the adoration of the French people and royalty alike, including Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. Her story adds a woman to the cast of characters on the stage of circus history.

This remarkable biography unveils the inspiring story of a trailblazing woman who revolutionized the circus world– without ever missing a step.



Although Madame Saqui never fell off the wire, this project did—many times. The journey began with my family’s love of circus. My daughters and I do aerial arts as well as tightwire and juggling. I wanted to learn more about the history of circus arts, so I read AN ORDINARY ACROBAT, by Duncan Wall. In one chapter, Wall made a brief mention of Madame Saqui, a brave woman wirewalker. I already knew about Philippe Petit, the man who walked between the Twin Towers in NYC, and Charles Blondin, the acrobat who walked over Niagara Falls. I wanted to learn more about this unknown woman whose accomplishments came well before these two. But it was hard to find information about her, aside from a few short articles from the 1800s. So I almost gave up . . .


Finally, I found a biography online, in French. My French wasn’t strong enough to translate it accurately. And I couldn’t find anyone available to help. So I fell off the wire: I gave up.

Then the universe smiled upon the project. My daughters and I had begun circus arts training at Moody Street Circus and I mentioned my research to the wonderful Melinda Pavlata who runs the circus studio. As luck would have it, she is fluent in French and has a PhD in Medieval French Literature! She was interested in Saqui’s story and willing to help me out. I was back on the wire! Without her translation, I would not have been able to discover the fascinating details of Madame Saqui’s life.


Next came a different high wire act: submissions! My agent, Alyssa Eisner Henkin, loved the story and sent it out to a variety of editors. Anne Schwartz, of Schwartz and Wade books, was about to leave for Paris when she received the submission. She told Alyssa that she’d make an offer when she returned. I was thrilled to learn that Anne was going to visit the places where Saqui had performed her ropedancing acts.

Anne Schwartz chose Rebecca Green to illustrate the book. In my opinion, the art is gorgeous and perfectly suited to the story. I’m impressed with the overall book design, too.


The final stage of this high wire act was the book’s release and promotion. Six months prior to publication, I decided to learn to wire walk on a low tight wire we own. I thought it would be fun to do a storytime event at bookstores that included reading the book aloud as well as walking across the wire (it’s portable so I can bring it to bookstores!) With the help of Sacha Pavlata of Moody Street Circus (he walked the high wire with the Flying Wallendas!) I learned various wire walking steps and designed a routine accompanied by the music of Louise Farrenc, a woman composer from the 1800s (1804-1875).

March 2020 arrived and I was ready to go! Terrible timing! A novel coronavirus brought a global pandemic. All bookstore events are postponed . . . nevertheless, I’m persisting with promoting the book. Look out for a video of me dressed as Madame Saqui and performing my routine. It will be on Facebook and my website.

Be on the lookout for a fun storytime activity kit designed by Kirsten Cappy of Curious City. There will be a DIY wirewalking activity where kids can simulate walking on a wire (while staying firmly on the ground), while pretending to be Madame Saqui.


Lisa Robinson is a child psychiatrist, voracious reader, and children’s book author (PIRATES DON’T GO TO KINDERGARTEN and PIPPA’S NIGHT PARADE). She lives outside Boston with her family and three Spice Cats: Cinnamon, Nutmeg, and Paprika. Lisa is the daughter of two world-traveling diplomats and grew up around the world—Senegal, the UK, and Russia. She has an M.D. from Tufts University and an MFA in Writing for Young People from Lesley University. When she’s not practicing psychotherapy or reading, she’s flying on aerial silks at her local circus studio. And wire walking, of course, every day at home.

Lisa was born in Kampala, Uganda to Peace Corps volunteers who later became world-traveling diplomats. When she was a child, her family moved frequently, from Seattle to Dakar to London to Moscow, so books became my best friends. Lisa is particularly thankful for the large collection of Nancy Drew mysteries she discovered in the library at Dakar Academy in Senegal.

Her favorite childhood memories include going on safari at the Niokolo Koba park, exploring castles in the English countryside, and vacationing on a sheep farm near Loch Ness in Scotland. Now she works as a therapist for children, teenagers, and adults, read voraciously—everything from newspapers to novels—and write stories for children and young adults. She has a BA in Psychology from Cornell University, an M.D. From Tufts University, and an MFA in Writing for Young People from Lesley University.

Lisa lives in Massachusetts with my scientist husband, two daughters, and a family of cats, the Spice Cats—Cinnamon, Nutmeg, and Paprika.

More recently, as a result of watching her daughters learn and practice circus arts, she has taken up aerial silks, so you can find her flying through the air at her local circus gym.

Lisa’s website: or on twitter: @elisaitw



Rebecca Green is an American illustrator, painter and make-believe maker who spends her days (and sometimes nights) illustrating for children’s and young adult books, magazines and galleries. She works primarily with gouache and colored pencil but also loves to explore mixed media, sculpture, and writing. Her debut picture book How To Make Friends With A Ghost was published in 2017. Illustrated titles include The Unicorn In the Barn, How To Be A Good Creature, The Glasstown Game, From Far Away, and A Year With Mama Earth. When she isn’t making art, she can be found cooking new recipes, hiking in the woods, or thrift shopping. She currently lives in Osaka, Japan with her husband.

Rebecca, along with her husband Matt, has spent time living and working in Michigan, Arizona, Colorado, and Tennessee and are now enjoying a stint in Osaka, Japan. We have two precious animal babies, Mori and Junie B.

Her clients include: Tundra Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Simon & Schuster, Schwartz & Wade, Viking Press, Harper Collins, Penguin Random House, Annick Press, Eerdman’s Books for Young Readers,  Kids Can Press, Frankie, Wall Street Journal, Flow Magazine, Meijer, Sal Oppenhiem, Amnesty International, Portland Alternative Dwellings, Amtrak, CraftSanity Magazine.”

Lisa, Thank you for sharing your book and its journey with us. I love that you learn wirewalking to help write this book. Rebecca’s illustrations are gorgeous.  I am sure everyone will love the book and its unique story. Gook Luck!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. What a wonderful book and story behind the story. Thanks so much for sharing!


  2. Such an interesting topic and biography! Congrats!


  3. Great-looking book! I’m sure lots of young girls and boys too would enjoy it. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.
    I have tweeted a link to this post:, and pinned an image on Pinterest as well:
    I also follow your blog daily by email: crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com
    Thanks again, have a safe day.


  4. I’ve been admiring this book since I began to see it in posts…and I can’t wait to read it!


  5. Great interview, Kathy. I am so glad Lisa found a translator so she could complete her research. This looks like a wonderful story! I love the illustrations, too!
    Kathy, I shared on Twitter and I receive your blog posts.


  6. I love finding books that are about unique topics which will grab the interest of my readers. This book falls in this category. I look forward to sharing it with my fourth graders.


  7. This looks fantastic and fun to read. Thank you for the interview.


  8. This looks like a great read! I can’t wait to read it.


  9. Congrats–this book sounds amazing! I’ve watched high-wire acts @ the circus school held near me (Omega) and was in awe. And Kathy, I follow your blog…thanks.


  10. Congrats on the book launch! I’m signed up for emails.


  11. Congrats, Lisa, on this new book! I look forward to seeing your tight rope routine! How fun to be able to do that for your upcoming book events!


  12. This looks and sounds amazing! Congrats!!


  13. Lisa, your story’s subject is as fascinating as your real-life involvement with circus! Looking forward to reading the book, lingering over Rebecca’s illustrations, and viewing your wire-walking when the video is ‘up’! Congratulations!


  14. Kathleen, I subscribe to your Writing and Illustrating blog! (extra ticket!)


  15. Learning to dance on a tight rope is true dedication. I’m sorry your event schedule was cancelled, but I’m looking forward to checking out your video and your book!


  16. What a fascination biography and your story of creating this book! I am so glad you didn’t give up and congratulations on your launch. I’m really looking forward to reading it.


  17. Can’t wait to celebrate your book release in person one day SOON Lisa! Thank you for these sneak peeks.


  18. Un libro meraviglioso! **-) * * * * * * * * * * *


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