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On an otherwise normal day in August 1974, a young Frenchman pulled off what may be the most impressive (not to mention foolhardy) wire-walking exhibition in history. New York City's early commuters looked up to the almost-completed World Trade Center towers to see a man, experienced aerialist Phillippe Petit, walking back and forth across them on a wire. This amazing (albeit highly illegal) achievement has now been immortalized in impressive ink and oil paintings in Mordicai Gerstein in The Man Who Walked Between the Towers. Among the artwork you will find the ingenious use of two foldout illustrations, each one establishing an amazing change in perspective of Petit's wire-walking feat and making the drama of the event all that more palpable. Published in 2003 and the recipient of The Caldecott Medal, this book is sure to captivate many young minds with its story and artistry (with a sense of vertigo thrown in absolutely free of charge), and it does stand as something of a touching reminder of the two towers that fell on September 11, 2001 and the spell they cast in their own silent yet mighty fortitude.
Alongside the artwork is the story, economically told, of Petit's dream and the manner in which he made it come true. It describes how he and some friends dressed up as construction workers, hid out on both towers until nightfall, and got the wire-walking cable (which was a mere seven-eighths of an inch wide) in place, after which Petit walked, ran, danced, and even lay down on the outstretched wire over the course of nearly an hour. He was then, of course, arrested but, to my surprise, ordered only to perform his feats for the children of New York City. This is a fabulous story that will literally take your breath away, especially if you are as afraid of heights as I am, but I can't get over just how dangerous and illegal this was (to his friends as well as himself) and can only wonder how Petit got off so easily.
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on 12 June 2011
Inspirational for adults and children alike. An exciting story of dedication to art/sport/technique/purity versus well-meaning corporate concern, regulations and sensibility. Beautifully illustrated and told. You will want to read it again and again.
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on 12 July 2011
It is splendidly illustrated, and tells the story of the Frenchman who (really) walked between the twin towers. I would NOT go on to tell the sad ending of the twin towers, just leave it, as the book does, with a happy ending. Great to read WITH a young child.
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on 25 December 2011
This is really a beautiful story with marvellous drawings, a graphic novel to read and read again. Very happy to have it in my collection.I didn't know the artist and I'm glad to know him now...
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on 4 January 2013
This book is great for adults and children alike. It is a wonderfully simplistic story about real life events and something that can now never be repeated. It shares the special memories of not only an event in history but also those very special buildings that were landmark to New York, its cityscape and the tragedy that befell them and it's people.
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on 4 January 2014
What a superb accompaniment to the movie - this book is a piece of art in itself, beautifully and well told. What a story. This is a very special book!
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on 14 May 2015
I hadn't realised that this was a true story... my class have enjoyed researching this... (and of course, 'Long Live the Twin Towers'!!!)
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on 9 June 2015
Amazing book to use in the Primary School setting. Fantastic cross curricular links. My class loved building scale models of the towers!
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on 13 August 2014
Excellent text, have used it for a USA topic and the opportunities for Talk for Writing are brilliant.
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on 25 October 2015
used this to inspire writing with 8-9 year olds. It certainly worked!!!
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