Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers

In the late 1970's, when I was around 10 years old, my mother took me sightseeing to the top of the World Trade Center.  I remember being extremely high up and looking down at the impossibly small cars on the street.  I remember seeing the other twin tower right over there.  Both towers had hundreds TV and radio antennae reaching up even higher into the sky.  But I never thought that these monumental towers would cease to exist.  That my walk on top would become just a fleeting memory never to be experienced by anyone after 2001.  Since I vividly remember physically touching and being on top of the World Trade Center, I've always had this fascination to search for the towers in old video footage, old books, old souvenirs, you name it.

This year's Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature went to Man on Wire, the improbably story of Philippe Petit's quest to walk between the World Trade Center Towers on a tightrope.  I haven't seen it yet, but I'm sure the documentary is completely inspirational and exhilarating.  I was first introduced to this amazing story by the children's book The Man Who Walked Between the Towers

The illustrations by Mordicai Gerstein in this Caldecott Medal book are phenomenal.  They capture the whimsical nature of Petit's hour long dance upon the wire, as well as the majestic grace of the towers themselves.  The illustrations will simply take your breath away.  "As long as he stayed on the wire he was free."  I can't imagine being a quarter of a mile up in the air with death a mere wind gust away as being free.  But even if you experience vertigo watching the actual footage in the documentary, you can experience the freedom with these illustrations.

Scholastic recently made a video of this story and others.  Most Scholastic videos are simply narrations of the story with illustrations from the book as a backdrop.  This one has a read-along feature where the words are displayed and highlighted during the narration. Check it out, or enter to win your copy at Mom Most Traveled by March 27th.

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