The Girl Who Walked On Air

The Girl Who Walked On Air

By Author / Illustrator

Emma Carroll


Historical Fiction

Age range(s)



Faber & Faber




Paperback / softback




From the queen of historical fiction, The Girl Who Walked On Air by Emma Carroll is an enchanting historical adventure.

Chipchase's Circus, England, 1875.  An abandoned baby. . . A tightrope walker. . . A deadly discovery . . . Louie, who was abandoned at Chipchase's Travelling Circus as a baby, dreams of becoming a 'Showstopper', but Mr Chipchase keeps her hidden, tucked away in the ticket booth. No Death-Defying Stunts for her. But Louie has been secretly practising her act - tightrope-walking - and dreams of being the Girl Who Walked on Air. . . she just needs to be given the chance to shine.  And the circus needs her too - Wellbeloved's rival show is stealing their crowds. They need a Showstopper. Desperate, Mr Chipchase reluctantly lets Louie perform. She is a sensation, and gets an offer from the sinister Mr Wellbeloved himself to perform . . . over Niagara Falls. But nothing is quite as it seems and soon Louie's bravery is tested not just on the highwire but in confronting her past and the shady characters in the world of the circus. . .

Fans of Frost Hollow Hall will love this epic adventure about following your dreams and becoming a showstopper! 'An adventure of old-fashioned charm.' The Sunday Times 'Engaging and entertaining.' Independent on Sunday. 'This book will keep you hooked as you let your imagination take flight.' We Love This Book. This one ticks all the boxes - Emma Carroll is an author to watch.' Books for Keeps. 'Historical fiction fans will love Emma Carroll's The Girl Who Walked on Air.' Sunday Express. 'Perfect for captivating the imagination of a developing reader.' Mumsnet



Louie Reynolds was abandoned at Chipchase's Travelling Circus as a tiny baby. Now she works behind the scenes, selling tickets and sewing costumes, but she has a dream. She longs to be a tightrope walker, and has been secretly practising to perfect her skills. She wants to perform and to be a showstopper act like her idol, Charles Blondin, but the circus owner, Mr Chipchase, seems reluctant to allow her into the limelight. When fellow tightrope walker Gabriel Swift joins Chipchase's from rival circus Wellbeloved's, he and Louie form a bond and plan to work as a double act. Then Mr Wellbeloved comes looking for Gabriel, and Louie is whisked away from England to Niagara Falls on a thrilling and dangerous adventure.

The Girl Who Walked On Air is a brilliant story, beautifully written and with characters that the reader truly cares about. I loved Louie; she is brave and headstrong, determined to follow her heart and achieve her ambitions. She also longs to discover what happened to the mother who abandoned her and never returned to claim her. Gabriel is a perfect foil for her, more careful and with a mysterious background which involves a family tragedy. The evil Mr Wellbeloved is the perfect villain, seemingly kind at first, his cruel and twisted personality emerges as the story unfolds. The climax of the book - describing how Louie faces walking the tightrope across the raging Niagara Falls - is action-packed and full of tension. The reader walks every step along the way with Louie in a wonderful piece of writing.

Ms Carroll has written another fabulous historical adventure, covering many themes. We learn a little of the social history of the circus at that time, and the circus setting is perfectly described; it is easy to imagine the colour, noise and excitement of the big top. The themes of family and friendship run throughout the book as Louie learns of Gabriel's life and her mother's past. The addition of a real life historical character - Charles Blondin - is a clever device and although we never meet him directly, he does play a large part in the story, adding another layer to the plot.

The reader is swept along to a very satisfying conclusion, with a neat twist and all loose ends neatly tidied away. All in all, this is a lovely book, exciting and thrilling. Even though the main character is female, I can see this appealing to both girls and boys and have no hesitation in recommending this to anyone who enjoys a well-written historical adventure story.

336 pages / Reviewed by Beverley Somerset, school librarian

Suggested Reading Age 9+


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