There is so much to recommend in this account of how a beekeeper and a former yak herder became the first people to stand on the roof of the world. It is of course an excellent read for any child with a sense of adventure. But it is about much more than the race to conquer the world’s highest mountain. It takes readers through the childhoods of two very different men and follows their lives long after they became the first people to reach the top of Everest in May 1953.
Edmund Hillary, from Auckland, New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay, from Kharta Valley in Tibet climbed Everest as ordinary men and came back down as international celebrities. Edmund Hillary used that fame to improve the lives of the Sherpa people in Nepal. Tenzing Norgay spent years helping to train future generations of mountain climbers.
Explorer Ranulph Fiennes provides the foreword, recalling how the two men inspired him to become a climber. He notes that Tenzing Norgay had never received the acclaim he deserved, but this book helps to redress that. It also focuses on the ‘pyramid of human effort’ – the massive team of people behind the climb, from scientists to fundraisers to diplomats.
The book is bursting with information about mountaineering, history, geography and life in a harsh climate, but the author Alexandra Stewart writes in a very accessible way that will be enjoyed by young and old. Her engrossing storytelling is well-served by the gorgeous illustrations created by Joe Todd-Stanton.