Before Nik Wallenda, There Was Annie Edson Taylor: Children’s Picture Book by Award-Winning Author/Illustrator Chris Van Allsburg Depicts Original Niagara Falls Daredevil

BOSTON -- In recent weeks, people across the country have been mesmerized by watching high-wire artist Nik Wallenda prepare to walk across Niagara Falls on a tightrope, a stunt scheduled to take place in front of a live audience on June 15. Queen of the Falls, written by lauded children’s book author/illustrator Chris Van Allsburg and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, examines another Niagara Falls daredevil named Annie Edson Taylor – an ordinary woman who should have lived an ordinary life but instead chose an extraordinary path. 

A charm school teacher without much charm of her own, Taylor began to worry about her future after she became widowed and unemployed at age sixty-two. Striving for a larger purpose, she concocted a plan in 1901 that she hoped would ensure both her financial stability and national celebrity – to ride over Niagara Falls in a barrel and survive to tell the tale. 

As the nation’s attention turns to Wallenda and his attempt to make history, Van Allsburg’s book gives a stunning visual introduction to this American landmark, and this quintessentially American quest for fortune and fame. 

Through Van Allsburg’s deft hand, readers are guided through Taylor’s breathtaking and bittersweet journey, experiencing both the awe-inspiring power of Niagara Falls and the drama of Taylor’s life-or-death plunge. 

A true visual and storytelling luminary, Chris Van Allsburg is a two-time winner of the Caldecott Medal, one of the highest distinctions in children’s literature, for Jumanji and The Polar Express

About Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Trade & Reference Division
With nearly two-centuries of award-winning history, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Trade and Reference Division continues to publish some of the most renowned novels, non-fiction, children’s books and reference works, Mariner Books trade paperbacks and ebooks. Its distinguished author list includes eight Nobel Prize winners, 47 Pulitzer Prize winners, 13 National Book Award winners, and more than 100 Caldecott, Newbery, Printz, and Sibert Medal and Honor recipients. HMH publishes such distinguished authors as Philip Roth, Temple Grandin, Tim O'Brien, and Umberto Eco, as well as The Best American series®, The American Heritage® family of dictionaries, The Gourmet Cookbook and other culinary classics, the Peterson Field Guides and books by J.R.R. Tolkien. Along with a celebrated lineup of children’s authors, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group is the publisher of some of the best-loved children's books and book characters including Curious George, The Little Prince and The Polar Express. For more information, visit