The Man Who Walked Between the Towers
Gerstein, Mordicai. The Man Who Walked Between the Towers. Roaring Brook Press, 2003. 40 pages .
In Mordicai Gerstein’s story of The Man Who Walked Between the Towers, a tightrope walker incorporated the “disappearance” of the twin towers in New York City into his story. Philippe was a fearless man who loved to perform on the tightrope in the city parks for all to see. One day he saw the space in between the two towers and thought it would be the greatest performance of his life. So he thought up a plot so he could walk the wire between the towers. In the end he walked the wire for an hour but was eventually caught when he walked back. Then one day the towers were gone but Philippe’s image was still left in the sky. He was sentenced to public service by performing in front of kids in the park. Not a single punishment could have been more suiting for Philippe.
Gerstein depicts the historic 9/11 attack on the twin towers by using the plot line of a tightrope walker. In the end of the story, the twin towers disappeared, but to the reader, Philippe’s legacy still remained and left the towers with a positive remembrance.
Gerstein’s illustrations enhanced the text of his story. When talking about the composition, he accurately depicted the height of the towers by using a vertical open flap in the book. The proportions of the main character to the height of the towers when he was on the ground level, made it very evident how tall the towers were. For the illustrations, the author used very vibrant colors all throughout the book to steer clear of how heartbreaking this moment was in history. Philippe’s black outfit made him stand out. The illustrator also used lines very effectively on every page. The towers were very straight and were depicted vertically whereas the direction of the wire was different. Also, when describing the location of the placement of the things in pictures. The height of the towers was also scene in the following picture where all the houses are pushed off into the distance.
He was not afraid. He felt alone and happy and absolutely free.
The story itself was not very informative, but it was trying to explain to children that the twin towers were in fact no longer there. If a child were to read this without being previously informed about the terrorist attack, a few questions that might arise would be in general, Where did the towers go? Who knocked them down? Why did they knock them down? More specifically, in the scene where the kids in the park try to knock down Philippe, a child might ask, Why did the kids do that? Why were they trying to hurt him? Being previously informed about the topic, it can be inferred that those boys represented the attackers, the terrorists. Also, when Philippe almost fell off the tightrope, but caught himself, this could represent freedom, but to a child, they might ask, What if he did fall?
With the idea of the fallen towers, Gerstein still gives the idea of where the towers were to a child. The clouds over the towers give off the idea of their lasting impact on society. The author does a good job of connecting the towers legacy to the tightrope walkers so the kids are able to give a reference to such historic buildings. Although they might not understand the towers significance, they do understand how important the towers were to Philippe.