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March 11, 2005

Man Who Walked Twin Towers Tightrope, Author/Illustrator, to Lecture at Smith

Editor's note: For a high-res image of the cover of Gerstein's book "The Man Who Walked Between the Towers " e-mail Marti Hobbes.

NORTHAMPTON, Mass.—French high wire artist Philippe Petit and the children’s book writer who chronicled Petit’s walk between the rooftops of the Twin Towers will appear together at Smith College at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 31.

Petit and author/illustrator Mordicai Gerstein will recall that amazing feat at a lecture titled “Drawing a Line, Walking a Wire” in the Weinstein Auditorium, Wright Hall. The event is free and open to the public and will be followed by a reception and book signing in the Neilson Library Browsing Room.

Gerstein began illustrating and writing children’s books in 1971 and now has more than 40 titles to his name, including tomes for adolescents and adults. His books range widely in subject from contemporary fantasy and biblical retellings to biography.

“The Man Who Walked Between the Towers,” won the prestigious Caldecott Medal of the American Library Association in 2004 for the most distinguished American picture book for children. Gerstein began writing it on the day of the Sept. 11 attack as a way of processing the shock and trauma of the event. The author had seen Philipe Petit perform on the streets of New York City decades earlier and felt that a book about his signature feat would be a fitting tribute to the Twin Towers.

In 1974, Petit strung a wire between the roofs, a quarter mile above the sidewalk, and crossed eight times. He spent an hour on that August morning alternately walking, jumping, dancing and lying down on the high wire.

In the 30 years since, Petit has performed around the world, including such places as Paris, Tokyo, Frankfurt, Jerusalem and New York City. He has been the subject of numerous films and is the author of five books, including “To Reach the Clouds: My High Wire Walk Between the Twin Towers.”

The lecture is sponsored by the Friends of the Smith College Libraries and the Lecture Committee.

Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Marti Hobbes
News Assistant
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174

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