Plot Summary: As the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center were being completed in 1974, a French aerialist, Philippe Petit, with the help of friends, strung a tightrope between the the skyscrapers, and proceeded to walk, dance, and perform tricks on the rope. His walk has now become a piece of the history of the World Trade Center, a memory captured here for both children and adults alike to experience the thrill and daring of Philippe's incredible feat.
Critical Analysis: Mordicai Getrstein has brought to life the memory of Philippe Petit's incredible high wire walk between the World Trade Center towers. His writing captures the free spirit of Philippe and allows one to understand why he would want to even try so amazing a performance.
Gerstein's illustrations provide a sense of awe at the height of the towers, and, using two fold-out pages, conveys the feeling of tremendous distance, with Philippe's small silhouette drawn between the towers. A sense of the impossible enters the mind along with unbelievable relief that Philippe did indeed survive this amazing act.
Publisher's Weekly: "Gerstein's dramatic paintings include some perspective bound to take any reader's breath away."
School Library Journal: "Gerstein captures his subject's incredible determination, profound skill and sheer joy. The final scene depicts transparent, cloud-filled skyscrapers, a man in their midst. With its graceful majesty and mythic overtones, this unique and uplifting book is at once a portrait of a larger-than-life individual and a memorial to the tower4s and the lives associated with them.
This would be a valuable book to share around September 11, to remind students of some of the good memories of the World Trade Center.
A connections could be made between girl gymnasts who perform on balance beams. If access to a gym is possible, try having students walk on beam.
McCully, Emily Arnold. Mirette on the High wire. ISBN 0698114434
Petit, Philippe. To Reach the Clouds. ISBN 0865476519 Although written for adults, it provides photos of Philippe and his walk.