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Publisher: Perfection Learning$18.60
Petit's unforgettable feat
One August evening in 1974, a man dressed as a construction worker began moving equipment to the top of the south tower at the World Trade Center. Using a bow and arrow, a partner on the opposite tower shot a strong line over, and they strung a cable five-eighths of an inch thick between the skyscrapers. When the sun came up the following day, Philippe Petit began his short walk in a high place. One hundred and forty feet across to the other tower, a quarter of a mile into the sky, he walked, danced, ran, knelt and even lay down for a rest above New York City. It was an incredible, inspiring, poetic and illegal act. When Petit finished his hour on the wire, he was arrested and sentenced to performing for children in the park, which he happily did.
Petit was a French street performer who had previously walked between the steeples of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. In The Man Who Walked Between the Towers, author Mordicai Gerstein uses spare and poetic writing to recount this unforgettable performance above the avenues of New York. Ink and oil illustrations capture the drama of Petit's daring exploit, and Gerstein employs a variety of perspectives to bring readers onto the wire. A policeman's cap falling off into space and the tiny boats on the river below create a vertiginous feeling. Witnesses on the ground, Petit on the wire, aerial views from above, and policemen on the rooftops shouting through bullhorns add to the visual splendor. The colors employed are rich and satisfying, from the nighttime hues of the city sky to the fiery red of torches being juggled. The story concludes with a ghostly image of the World Trade Center and the line, "Now the towers are gone."
More than just the story of a brave man's rise to greatness, Gerstein's book is an ode to the human spirit. It's a tribute to the towers, the city itself and the dash and daring of a performer whose exploits have become a permanent part of New York City's history.