Title: The Man Who Walked Between the Towers Author: Mordicai Gerstein Illustrator: Mordicai Gerstein Publisher: Brookfield; Roaring Brook Press
Genre: Caldecott Book Level: Beginner Number of pages: 35 Pub. Date: 2003
This is the story of Philippe Petit when he walked a tight rope between the twin towers of the world trade center. This happened August 7, 1974. Philippe decided that he wanted to walk between the two towers and since he knew the police would say know he sneaks a cable up to the top of the tower with his friend. He then proceeded to do all kinds of tricks on the wire while the police stood on either side waiting to arrest him. When he was finally done, the judge ended up sentencing him to perform in the park for the city children. The sad thing about this book is talks about how even though the towers no longer stand they still stay in our memory along with this story.
This book probably has the most various in the placement of art out of all the Caldecott books I read. It varies in direction, size, and orientation. The borders switch from strait lines and squiggly. The strait lines represent what actually happened while the squiggly lines represent flash backs or imagined scenes. The words weave above and below the borders of the pictures. My favorite pages are the two that fold out into longer pictures. This was a clever way to make the change in what is happening while the scenery stays the same. It also helps to show the distance between the ground and the rope.
This story really reminded me of the towers falling, which is horribly sad. I distinctly remember learning about the towers falling. They fell during grandparents’ week at my elementary. My grandmother was supposed to fly in to visit. Her flight was supposed to take off from the same airport that the hijacked planes came from. Luckily her flight was later in the day, and her flight ended up just getting cancelled. Since my grandma didn’t make it my parents came and ate lunch with me and explained what had happened. I was really young at the time, only 7, and I really didn’t understand what had happened until I saw images on the news later. Then about a month later we visited New Jersey and we saw the Manhattan skyline. I don’t think I’ve ever seen something as upsetting as the large spot in the sky where the twin towers where suppose to stand. Today, we still remember what happened on September 11th but I don’t know how long that will last. I think this would be a good book to introduce this horrible tragedy into the classroom.
After: Have a discussion about September 11, 2001. Talk about other memories students may have surrounding the towers.