Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers (Caldecott #5)

Author: Mordicai Gerstein
Illustrator: Mordicai Gerstein
Year Published: 2003
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Awards: Caldecott Medal (2004)

What did you like/dislike about the book?
Mordicai Gerstein's book, The Man Who Walked Between the Towers, is a tale of a young French acrobat and his desire to tightrope walk between the World Trade Center towers.  He snuck into the building under disguise and, aided by his two friends, set up the stunt.  As daybreak came, he walked a quarter-mile in the air on the tightrope for an hour.

My favorite detail of the book is the suspenseful way in which it is told.  Having not heard of Philippe's story before, I was worried he would plummet to his death.  I can imagine my students having similar reactions.  I also enjoyed the illustrations, especially the pull-out pages.  They attempt to replicate the grandeur of the towers.

This book is appropriate for all ages of readers.  It can be used to teach about brave stunts, to celebrate the World Trade Center towers, or about reaching your goals.

What in your life would have influenced this reaction/response?
Having not heard this story before, I was worried about Philippe's well-being.  Originally, I thought this book was written before the September 11 attacks and was surprised to see it was after those events.  Gerstein has a simplistic ending to his story that does not distract from Philippe's antics.

How does this book compare to similar books/author’s other books?
Other media surrounding this stunt, including the film Man on Wire, tell similar versions of the story.  Gerstein's other titles have complementary illustration styles to this book.  Lots of flowy lines, pastel colors, and zoomed in views are common.

What did I learn about children’s literature from this book?
Children's literature can be used to memorialize past historical events without distracting from their past.  The use of pull-out pages can be a surprising addition to a story's plot, especially when trying to convey grandeur.

Other titles by this author include:

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