Man on a Wire: Niagara Falls Tightrope Walk

This is what dreams are made of, people. Pursue your dreams. Never give up. Mine might seem strange, but anybody that’s dealing with any battle – focus on that other side.
Nik Wallenda

Dear Students,

Did you see Nik Wallenda walk on a tightrope over Niagara Falls this week?

Do you wonder how he kept his balance?

Nic Wallenda is a 7th generation aerialist. He is a member of a famous family, The Flying Wallendas.

Nic Wallenda’s feat reminded me of other tightrope walks that captured our imagination.

You can borrow Man on a Wire from the public library to learn more about Phillipe Petit’s living art.

In 1974, French funambulist Philippe Petit threw a tightrope between the two towers of the World Trade Center and spent an hour walking, dancing, and performing high-wire tricks a quarter mile in the sky. This picture book captures the poetry and magic of the event with a poetry of its own: lyrical words and lovely paintings that present the detail, daring, and–in two dramatic foldout spreads– the vertiginous drama of Petit’s feat. The Man Who Walked Between the Towers is the winner of the 2004 Caldecott Medal, the winner of the 2004 Boston Globe – Horn Book Award for Picture Books, and the winner of the 2006 Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Children’s Video.

This is as close as I will get to walking on a tightrope!

Mirette on the High Wire is a picture book set in 19th-century Paris. Mirette, a child helps a daredevil who has lost his edge to regain his confidence. Many traveling performers stay at Madame Gateaux’s boarding house, but Mme.’s daughter Mirette is particularly taken with one guest–the quiet gentleman who can walk along the clothesline without falling off. Mirette implores the boarder to teach her his craft, not knowing that her instructor is the “Great Bellini” of high wire fame. After much practice the girl joins Bellini on the wire as he conquers his fear and demonstrates to all of Paris that he is still the best.

Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully

In 1876, Maria Spelterini crossed the Niagara Gorge on a tightrope.

Nik’s goal was to help inspire others to take on difficult challenges and to overcome fear in life. Nik said, “People ask why I would do this, but it goes back to the reason why I wanted to do it in the first place,” he said. “It wasn’t to get rich, it was to pursue a dream and to inspire people.”

Safety first,

Mrs. Kenney


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