The first time I heard of The Man Who Walked Between the Towers was this year when a colleague suggested it while we were doing our usually last minute search for a way to remember 9/11. I briefly glimpsed the cover and the art work immediately caught my eye. The view looking down from the tight rope gives you the idea of how tall the Towers where and the obstacles (who would have thought of seagulls!) the tightrope walker faced. It draws you into the story and makes you want find out what happens. I like how it talks about the young man seeing the building rise into the sky and then compares them to the iconic steeples of Norte Dame Cathedral. It predicts the future fame of the Twin Towers. The art work they goes on to show how the Philippe, the tightrope walker and his friend sneak into the Towers, it makes it look whimsical. Next the dark night pictures from the roof looking down onto a sparkling city add excitement to the story. As the dawn breaks the city comes alive and you can see Philippe's sense of freedom walking on the wire. The faces of the people show their amazement and the police officer's frustration with the tightrope walkers actions. Finally he finishes his performance and is given an appropriate punishment for breaking a rule--performing for children in the park! The author and illustrator worked together to create words and pictures that work together to help the reader visualize the story. It also gives the reader the understanding that the Towers where an important landmark in the city before their tragic ending.
To me this story is an excellent way to open a conservation about 9/11, especially with younger children. It represents a time when an adventure seeking young man could sneak his way to the top of the cities tallest buildings and the world could stop and watch. You could use it to focus discussion on how our world has changed from then to now. Then the Towers where the center of city life, employing thousands of people. Now they represent one of our country's greatest tragedies. Younger students could that the Towers where more than just an event and older students could discuss the topic of personal liberty and how has it changed since 9/11. I see the book not just as a picture book, but as an excellent teaching tool.