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The Man Who Walked Between the Towers
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About the Author

Mordicai Gerstein is the author and illustrator of The Man Who Walked Between the Towers, winner of the Caldecott Medal, and has had four books named New York Times Best Illustrated Books of the Year. Gerstein was born in Los Angeles in 1935. He remembers being inspired as a child by images of fine art, which his mother cut out of Life magazine, and by children's books from the library: "I looked at Rembrandt and Superman, Matisse and Bugs Bunny, and began to make my own pictures."

He attended Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles, and then got a job in an animated cartoon studio that sent him to New York, where he designed characters and thought up ideas for TV commercials. When a writer named Elizabeth Levy asked him to illustrate a humorous mystery story about two girls and a dog, his book career began, and soon he moved on to writing as well as illustrating. The author of more than forty books, Gerstein lived in Westhampton, Massachusetts.

Reviews

"Gerstein's dramatic paintings include some perspectives bound to take any reader's breath away. Truly affecting." --Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) "Readers of all ages will return to this again and again for its history, adventure, humor, and breathtaking homage to extraordinary buildings and a remarkable man." --Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review) "With its graceful majesty and mythic overtones, this unique and uplifting book is at once a portrait of a larger-than-life individual and a memorial to the towers and the lives associated with them." --School Library Journal (Starred Review)

This effectively spare, lyrical account chronicles Philippe Petit's tightrope walk between Manhattan's World Trade Center towers in 1974. Gerstein (What Charlie Heard) begins the book like a fairy tale, "Once there were two towers side by side. They were each a quarter of a mile high... The tallest buildings in New York City." The author casts the French aerialist and street performer as the hero: "A young man saw them rise into the sky.... He loved to walk and dance on a rope he tied between two trees." As the man makes his way across the rope from one tree to the other, the towers loom in the background. When Philippe gazes at the twin buildings, he looks "not at the towers but at the space between them.... What a wonderful place to stretch a rope; a wire on which to walk." Disguised as construction workers, he and a friend haul a 440-pound reel of cable and other materials onto the roof of the south tower. How Philippe and his pals hang the cable over the 140-feet distance is in itself a fascinating-and harrowing-story, charted in a series of vertical and horizontal ink and oil panels. An inventive foldout tracking Philippe's progress across the wire offers dizzying views of the city below; a turn of the page transforms readers' vantage point into a vertical view of the feat from street level. When police race to the top of one tower's roof, threatening arrest, Philippe moves back and forth between the towers ("As long as he stayed on the wire he was free"). Gerstein's dramatic paintings include some perspectives bound to take any reader's breath away. Truly affecting is the book's final painting of the imagined imprint of the towers, now existing "in memory"-linked by Philippe and his high wire. Ages 5-8. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

"Gerstein's dramatic paintings include some perspectives bound to take any reader's breath away. Truly affecting." --Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) "Readers of all ages will return to this again and again for its history, adventure, humor, and breathtaking homage to extraordinary buildings and a remarkable man." --Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review) "With its graceful majesty and mythic overtones, this unique and uplifting book is at once a portrait of a larger-than-life individual and a memorial to the towers and the lives associated with them." --School Library Journal (Starred Review)

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