King of the Tightrope: When the Great Blondin Ruled Niagara
King of the Tightrope: When the Great Blondin Ruled Niagara
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Catalog Number: #190385
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
No other formats available
Special Formats: Hot Title Hot Title
Copyright Date: 2019
Edition Date: 2019
Pages: 48
Availability: Available
ISBN: 1-561-45937-2
ISBN 13: 978-1-561-45937-7
Dewey: 796
Language: English
Reviews:
ALA Booklist
Philippe Petit isn't the only daring French funambulist. Indeed, Jean-François Gravelet the Great Blondin, as he would later be known fied gravity and expectations during the 1800s, most famously for walking over Niagara Falls on a tightrope. Bowman leads up to this monumental feat by first describing Blondin's childhood in the circus and the stunts he incorporated into his act to make it more challenging. The lifelike gouache-and-watercolor illustrations are rich with the drama and tension of Blondin's performances, depicting him balancing on a chair, playing instruments, and even cooking an omelet while on his tightrope. Bowman conjures the sheer magnitude of his Niagara endeavor as she describes the calculations, equipment, and manpower needed to simply get Blondin's rope from one shore to the other. And like the spectators there on June 30, 1859, readers will hold their breath as the Frenchman makes his legendary walk. She rounds out this daredevil's biography with a time line and trivia. Source notes and extended content can be found on the author's website.
Kirkus Reviews
How famous French funambulist Jean-François Gravelet daringly traversed a tightrope spanning Niagara Falls in 1859.Born into a family of acrobats, gymnasts, and funambulists, or tightrope walkers, Jean-François learned to balance on a thick board at age 4 and "took to the rope like a spider takes to its web." Performing with his family throughout France, Jean-François twirled, flipped, leaped, and skipped across the high wire, inventing extreme balancing feats. Calling himself "the Great Blondin," he traveled to America in 1851, pushing his act to be ever more "merveilleux." Viewing Niagara Falls in 1858, Blondin imagined a tightrope stretched across it. Crossing "those roaring waters" became his life's ambition. Peppered with French words and phrases, Bowman's well-researched documentary text re-creates the energy, tactics, skill, engineering, unflinching optimism, and sheer grit of Blondin's preparations to cross Niagara as well as the skepticism and wonder of all who witnessed his legendary endeavor. Bold, colorful watercolor-and-gouache illustrations capture Blondin's high-wire escapades, from tottering childhood steps through his sure-footed Niagara crossing, with a dramatic, almost photographic realism. Theatrical lighting, stunning perspectives, and arresting close-ups convey the intensity of Blondin's feats, either high above the viewer on a rope spanning both pages or below the viewer perched over Niagara's turbulent waters. Historical notes, timeline, and photos complete the experience.Awesome, astounding, death-defying. (author's notes, photos) (Informational picture book. 6-10)
School Library Journal
Gr 36 Jean-François Gravelet, also known as the Great Blondin, was a famous 19th-century French tightrope walker who toured the world performing dangerous feats. Relying on the financial assistance of his supporters and his own ingenuity, the Great Blondin achieved his dream of crossing a tightrope across Niagara Falls. Using sentences of varying lengths and occasional repetition and sprinkling in French words, Bowman makes this longer text accessible to a wide range of readers. Gustavson's gouache and watercolor images transport readers into Blondin's world. The final three pages include photographs and several facts about Blondin's life and his most famous feats. VERDICT This well-researched, riveting biography will inspire readers. Mary Lanni, formerly at Denver Public Library
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
ALA Booklist (6/1/19)
Kirkus Reviews
School Library Journal (11/1/19)
Reading Level: 2.0
Interest Level: K-3
Lexile: 700L
Guided Reading Level: S
Fountas & Pinnell: S

In 1859, Jean-Francois Gravelet, known as The Great Blondin, walked across Niagara Falls on a tightrope. What kind of man would do something like that? And more importantly, how do you become that man?
At the age of four, Jean-Francois Gravelet walked across his first balance beam. Later, he took to the tightrope like a spider to its web, and with his family troupe, he climbed toward stardom. As The Great Blondin, his feats became more and more marvelous, but he was bored. That is, until he visited Niagara Falls and imagined doing something that no one else had ever accomplished. It would take courage to cross the falls, but Blondin first had to figure out how to get a rope across the rushing water, what kind of rope and knots to use, and how to handle the huge sag in the middle of the walking rope. In 1859, with all of the work completed, Blondin would step out onto the most dangerous tightrope walk hed ever faced.
Author Donna Janell Bowmans trademark in-depth research gives readers a clear and exciting look into the accomplishments of The Great Blondin, as well as the hard work, determination, and meticulous mathematic and scientific planning it took to cross Niagara Falls on a tightrope. Adam Gustavsons detailed illustrations turn this book into an experience that will inspire readers of all ages.


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