Picture book Analysis

The Man Who Walked Between The Towers by Mordicai Gerstein

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Based on a true story about a man who walked between two enormous towers in New York City. It's inspiration came from a man name Philippe Petit, who dedicated his life to the arts of wire walking. He had done small performances as a street performer for locals in the park. Philippe did extraordinary things in his past time. During his free time from standing on a rope between two trees, he spots a space between two tall towers. These towers was the World Trade Center. He was determined to conquer the walk across the two buildings as he did in Paris on the Notre Dame Cathedral. Knowing well that authorities would be all against his idea he plotted scheme. Philippe dressed and played the role as a construction worker in the night. Along with friends who supported his idea to carry it on. There were many steps to reach his goal to walk a straight line on a wire at great length and height.
Philippe Petit Walks a Tightrope Between the Twin Towers in 1974

Literary Elements

There were many intense scenes and complications that contributed to the plot. First being that what Philippe was doing is life threatening and dangerous. This shows his character is strong and confident to be able to achieve his dreams no matter what the consequences were or how impossible it might have seemed. In the first few pages, it showed an image of himself on a tight rope along two trees with the two towers in the background. This foreshadows that he would be soon walking across the towers next. The ending of the story does fill in Philippe's void and reassures the audience from their assumptions while reading.

The big take away from Philippe's journey in accomplishing his dream was that if you are open minded and if you believe you can do anything you set your mind to, you will. This saying will motivate an individual throughout his/her life mentally and in society. The setting is clear if you knew some history about the two largest buildings in the world, the World Trade Center. The story yields in New York City in August around the 1970s. It is told in third person, as it refers to the two towers as "they" on the first page and Philippe is used promptly. Overall, the feel of the words that went along with images was calming and exciting. The books ends to commemorate the story that revolved around the man and the two towers.

Physical Elements

The books physical features greatly impacts how a reader approaches it. The book itself is fairly thin but full of wide spaces within the story. The cover of the book reflects the literal meaning of the title, "The Man Who Walked Between The Two Towers". It shows one foot in front of the other about a city skyline that is partially shown. The direction the foot is facing shows an angle at which the person is standing at that expresses a type of perspective in the story. Most of the pages in the book are read left to right, however, some give the reader a wider view. In a couple pages you are able to flip open for a "bigger picture". There is a particular page that was interesting because it had you turn the book side ways. I feel like that was meant to define the picture even more. The structure of the pages were able to capture the readers attention and also bring them along side the main character's adventure.
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Visual Elements

The text and illustrations throughout the story are widely different. Some would be formatted like a comic book setting with squares and strips of images. Others would fill the page to the edges of the book and words would be misplaced to guide the story along a big picture. Typically with architecture, there is many vertical, horizontal, and diagonal lines. Elements, such as, the two trees in the beginning of the story with a rope tied across frames the bigger picture of two taller buildings in the background. Vertical lines, like the rope in between other objects, helps shape the sturdiness and height of both the trees and buildings.

The more wider the image was on the page the smaller the rope or wire really looked. This showed thinness, also compared to the bar the man holds, while tied at different ends. It was scary to think an object as slim as wire can hold anything. The bar he holds is much thicker to hold himself and his balance down showing strength. As time passed to come to Philippe's glorious moment to walk across the two largest building in the world, the author views this moment at the corner of one building to the other. The wire directly makes a diagonal line that express movement from one side to the other.

Since the story took place in a big city, the main shapes shown above and below the pages were squares and rectangles. This represents stability and conformity within homes and businesses. In the beginning of the story, however, Philippe juggles balls showing endlessness in a circle. And in his moments of truth across the wire, only the corners of the buildings would be shown. This created tension in something that was about to happen.

Lastly, the element color helped tell the story from the small to big moments. In the first few pages, green, yellow, orange, and blue associated mostly with the environment. The vivid nature around the character created a calm, warm, and happy place. When Philippe strikes up his idea to walk across the World Trade Center, him and authorities are surrounded by faded blues, blacks, and greys. The reader sense sadness in a broken cream and darkness from the authorities. The moment right away brightens again when Philippe plots a devious scheme to go for his dream. From when him and his friends set up the wire until the moment he starts walking to the very end, blue is the prominent color. Mostly because they are scurrying in the night mysteriously which makes the reader feel kind of gloomy or calm. Coming to the end of the book the blue becomes lighter and bits of yellow starts to break through. Which expresses happiness, contempt, and caution in the last few pages.

Artistic Style

The Man Who Walked Between The Towers mostly expresses the artistic style surrealism. The author's intentions is to encourage creativity and imagination to connect similarities in the world to our idea of a dream reality. As read in this true story, Philippe Petit was destined and determined to do impossible things people wouldn't even consider actually doing. So as long as Philippe stayed on the wire he was free. This meaning behind this is that an individual can be free as long as they believe in themselves and the path they have chosen. The cartoon and sketch like drawings throughout the pages appeals to many younger readers. Cartoon art helps capture emotion and movement that makes readers feel something reading along with the book. It is also somewhat realistic because it takes place in a real city with a real story in the past. Artistic styles incorporate authentic thoughts and feelings into readers minds.

Artistic Media

The use of artistic media in The Man Who Walked Between The Towers literally helps reader's eye glide through the pages. in any book process, pen sketches are made to bring ideas to paper. There are a lot of criss cross lines that fill in objects in the story. It adds shading and definition to the drawings. These leftover lines allowed the watercolor paint look to seep through them. The perspective of the reader never held still. Watercolors changed the mood of the story page to page. It starts out bright with vivid color such as orange, yellow, and green to capture lightness. Ending the book became gloomy filling in with colors like shades of grey, black, and blue. However, the bright and dark colors are mixed together to created a sense of content in the end. Even without words to describe the pictures, I believe the message can be easily depicted.

Philippe Petit's World Trade Center tightrope walk recreated itself into a remarkable motion picture called The Walk. Released recently to remember his extraordinary experience on those historical buildings.

THE WALK - Official IMAX Trailer

Elements of Illustration

The elements of illustrations in this story are fairly similar but changes as you read further into the story. It combines images viewed as one big picture on one page and like a comic strip in the next. The pictures are framed with irregular lines to that feels more freely rather than straight and stiff. Irregular lines helps describe the main character as free and spunky. The words and pictures are a symmetrical interaction that tells the story in chronological order. The arrangement of the words and images can differ from above to below, in between, or within. How spacious the words and images are give time for readers to analyze what they have just read and relate it to what is being shown. This conveys the contradictory interaction in some parts of the book.

Interplay of Text and Illustrations

As said in "Elements of Illustration," the text and illustrations don't stray from the story both are trying to convey. The tools literary elements (character, plot, settings, theme, tone), physical elements, and visual elements (lines, color, shapes/patterns) collaborate together to create a connection in some way to the reader. Images alone can make a reader come up with his/her own story for them. A famous saying that goes for all artists, writers, illustrators, and others that "a picture is worth a thousand words."