- Rebecca Purdy
My husband recently returned from a successful summit of Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro! He’d trained hard and I knew he was ready, but I’ve read too many mountain climbing books to sit back and relax. While it’s not that I don’t love a good adventure from the comfort of my couch, when it comes to my husband climbing a mountain thousands of miles away, somehow it’s only the dangerous parts I remember. Of course, now that he’s safely home I’m just plain proud and happy to recommend books for the future mountain climbers of the world.
Maxwell in “Maxwell’s Mountain” by Shari Becker reminds me of my husband. Looking around from the top of the slide, he’s unimpressed until he turns around and sees...the mountain. It was tall and awesome and glorious and big! It was the perfect lookout, and he needed to climb it. His parents thought he was too little. ‘His dad said, ‘to tackle a mountain, you’ve got to be a great outdoorsman. ‘Then I’ll be a great outdoorsman,’ said Maxwell” and he began to train. He checked out books from the library, he climbed to the top of the staircase 4 times and packed 10 superhero Band-Aids in his first aid kit. Finally, he was ready. His parents offered to be assistant navigators, but Maxwell thought it better that they just watch. Once he lost the trail, but sliding back down a little ways he found it again and was back on track. He pulled himself over the last boulder and saw skyscrapers and maybe even his roof. As he had expected, it was the perfect lookout, glorious and big!
Luckily, my husband isn’t foolhardy like fourteen year old Peak Marcello of “Peak” by Roland Smith. Seemingly desperate to escape the shadow of his famous mountain climbing father, Peak scales a New York City skyscraper. Fame and fortune pull strings so instead of juvenile detention, Peak is instead sent to live with his father. Hoping to draw attention to his climbing business, his father decides Peak should be the youngest person to reach Everest’s summit. That’s also the aspiration of Sun-jo, the son of his father’s head sherpa. To save his father’s job, Sun-jo is forced to put aside his dream and make sure Peak reaches the top first. As the media circus swells Peak is forced to decide if risking his own life and betraying his new friend is worth his father’s fleeting attention. This is a non-stop, action packed adventure for middle school students.
“Epic Climbs” by John Cleare is perfect for anyone interested in mountain climbing. This oversized book is not meant for reading cover to cover. Photographs accompanied by short paragraphs, allow the reader to pore over each page, picking and choosing what most interests them. A photo of ragged old climbing boots, leads to information about Everest’s most famous climber, George Mallory, and the recent discovery of his body. The sepia-toned photo of a man sitting on a tripod, projecting horizontally from a mountain and hanging over a cliff, leads to information on how the movie Eiger Sanction was filmed. Not just anecdotal, there’s technical information about climbing equipment, how Everest was formed and altitude adjustment. This enjoyable book provides vivid insight into the mountain climbing adventure.
Originally published in The Free Lance-Star.