Many Ways We Tell Our Stories: Mime

June 25, 2019
Mime, speak without words!

You will never hear my voice. You will never forget the stories I tell.


The mime moves soundlessly across the stage, his back to us. He turns around. His face is white. His eyebrows are outlined black. His smiling lips are bright red.

We watch as he climbs stairs where There are no stairs Opens a window Peeks in Surprise! He looks at us … mischief in his eyes Follow me, he motions. Do you see what I see? His hands speak and then His hands answer Something monster big Something with a VERY long snout.

Watch out! 

Sharp teeth! He frowns, his forehead furrowed. Worried. It flies! His mouth drops open. Amazing. Beautiful! Over us it flies, around and around until it lands Close. Next to him. He scuttles away. What’s this?  The monster is sad. Come closer, his hands wave, come near, see —

He climbs down the stairs, one rail at a time, and the beast steps closer

What’s this, he points, and walks like the beast, step-limp, step-limp, galump! Oh, dear, the beast sits down … too near

A huge heavy foot, plunk, lands on his lap Tears trickle down the beast’s scaly cheeks, Our friend wipes away the tears ever so lightly, gently, Nods.  Lifts up the heavy foot. A thorn! A giant cactus thorn.

Carefully pull, pull, pull. Doesn’t work, fall over, try again Pull pull pull Pop!

A slobbery beasty thank-you lick A pat on the head …. Reach up, up, up Scary Done Good-bye? Already? What? Me come too? Climb on your back? Some day, maybe some day. One more hug, Fly, fly away Watch! Giant wings disappear. A new tear tumbles down.

Delightful picture books about mime artists: Be a Friend, written and illustrate by Salina Yoon, Bloomsbury, 2016. Marcel Marceau, Master of Mime written by Gloria Spielman, illustrated by Manon Gauthier, Kar-Ben, 2011 “Mime Who Saved Kids from the Holocaust,” Kat Eschner, Smithsonian magazine, 22 March 2017 Monsieur Marceau, Actor Without Words written by Leda Schubert, illustrated by Gerard Dubois, Flash Point, 2012 Sir Charlie: Chaplin, the Funniest Man in the World, written by Sid Fleischman, Greenwillow, 2010. Smile: How Young Charlie Chaplin Taught the World to Laugh (and Cry) written by Gary Golio and illustrated by Ed Young, Candlewick, 2019.

Visit the Charlie Chaplin website:

“This Day in Jewish History: 2007, The World’s Greatest Mime, Who Saved Jewish Children in WWII, Passes On,” David B. Green,, 22 Sept 2015

From the article, “But though Bip is what Marceau is remembered for today, before he created the character, he used his mime skills for another reason: to help him smuggle Jewish children out of Nazi-occupied France when he was part of the French Resistance.“He later said that he used his pantomime skills to keep the children silent during the most dangerous moments.”

young mimes
  Tell it yourself! With a friend, or several, choose a simple, favorite, well-known tale, such as The Three Little Pigs, and tell it wordlessly through mime. Practice painting faces like a mime. Try out showing different emotions with your mouth, eyes, the tilt of your head.  Then try adding movement: walking in place, jogging in place, even tumbling (what did you trip over???!). For extra fun and effect, collect all sorts of hats from used-clothing stores.  Try out different hats and notice how each creates a different effect.
______________________________________ Copyright © 2019, Nancy Bo Flood. All rights reserved.

Nancy Bo Flood

As a fish-brain surgeon or a rodeo poem wrangler, I have loved stories. I strongly believe that words – in poetry or prose – help heal our hearts and give us new eyes to see the world. I was first a research psychologist studying brain development at the University of Minnesota and London University before following my passion – writing for children. Learn more...