Crossing Niagara: The Death-Defying Tightrope Adventures of the Great Blondin

by Matt Tavares

By the mid-19 th century, Jean François Gravelet was already known as The Great... read more

By the mid-19 th century, Jean François Gravelet was already known as The Great Blondin, the world’s greatest tightrope walker. But a trip to Niagara Falls in 1859 inspired him to step up his game. He was determined to walk from the American to the Canadian side of the Falls on a three-inch wide rope. People came from all around the area to witness the momentous crossing, in which Blondin not only walked from the United States to Canada, but also turned around and walked back. Throughout the summers of 1859 and 1860, Blondin walked back and forth across the rope for an ever-growing, captivated audience. Each time, he added new feats of daring, including walking across blind- folded and walking across carrying another man on his back. Matt Tavares has reconstructed the story of Blondin’s remarkable feats mostly through contemporaneous newspaper accounts. His dramatic watercolor, gouache, and pencil illustrations show the immensity of the Falls and the enormous distance from side to side, as well as providing a close-up view of what things looked like from high atop the tightrope. (Ages 6–11)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2017

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