King of the Tightrope: When the Great Blondin Ruled Niagara (Hardcover)

King of the Tightrope: When the Great Blondin Ruled Niagara By Donna Janell Bowman, Adam Gustavson (Illustrator) Cover Image
Ask a Bookseller about this title


In 1859, The Great Blondin took the most dangerous tightrope walk of his career—a death-defying walk across Niagara Falls. History and STEAM combine for an edge-of-your-seat read.

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 climbed toward stardom. Though his feats became more and more marvelous, he grew bored. That is, until he visited Niagara Falls and imagined doing something that no one else had ever accomplished.

To cross the raging river, the Great Blondin needed determination, an understanding of engineering, and a belief that what he could imagine, he could accomplish. And in 1859, with all of his preparation complete, Blondin stepped out onto the most dangerous tightrope walk he'd ever faced.

Award-winning nonfiction author Donna Janell Bowman uses her trademark in-depth research to give readers a close look at the hard work and meticulous mathematic and scientific planning it took to plan and execute and astonish feat. Adam Gustavson's detailed illustrations turn this book into an experience that will astound and inspire. This fascinating, STEAM-filled story will have readers holding their breath!

About the Author

Donna Janell Bowman grew up on a ranch in central Texas, where she took care of animal friends and trained for horse shows. Today she is a speaker, writing coach, and the author of award-winning books for young readers. Bowman has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts and lives in Texas.

Adam Gustavson holds an MFA from the School of Visual Arts and a BFA from Rowan University and has taught at Seton Hall University and Philadelphia's University of the Arts. He is the award-winning illustrator of over thirty books for children. He lives, paints, teaches, and plays music in his home state of New Jersey, along with his charming family and a neurotic poodle.

Praise For…

"The lifelike gouache-and-watercolor illustrations are rich with the drama and tension of Blondin's performances. . . 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." —Booklist

"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. . . Theatrical lighting, stunning perspectives, and arresting close-ups convey the intensity of Blondin's feats. . . Awesome, astounding, death-defying." —Kirkus Reviews

"Bowman makes this longer text accessible to a wide range of readers. Gustavson's gouache and watercolor images transport readers into Blondin's world. . . . This well-researched, riveting biography will inspire readers." —School Library Journal

Product Details
ISBN: 9781561459377
ISBN-10: 1561459372
Publisher: Peachtree
Publication Date: October 1st, 2019
Pages: 48
Language: English