Everest: The Remarkable Story of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay; Alexandra Stewart, illustrated by Joe Todd Stanton
I would love to climb to the top of Everest. Reaching the summit of Everest is one of the toughest physical challenges on Earth and is something that has only been accomplished by just over 5,000 people. The sad fact is that many have died trying to take on the challenge of Everest - from experienced climbers to the sherpas who carry equipment and guide the way. It is as tough to do today as it was back in 1953 when a New Zealander and a Tibetan stood on the highest point on Earth.
In 1953 two ordinary people achieved the extraordinary. Everest is the incredible true story of two men who climbed a mountain and in doing so became famous around the world. The intrepid duo navigated deadly ice crevasses, survived freezing temperatures, battled ferocious winds and avoided falling rocks on their way to the top. The story of Hillary and Norgay is testament to what can be achieved through hard work and determination.
Neither was from particularly well to do families. Hillary was the son of a beekeeper and Norgay was the son of a yak herder. Hillary struggled at school and longed for adventures beyond the classroom. It was on a school trip that Hillary would experience the joy of snow and climbing mountains. This was the start of adventures that would see him scale the mountains of New Zealand to the tallest mountain on Earth. Norgay was fascinated by the mountains that surrounded him, he was drawn to Everest. His early years would see him run away from a monastery, run away from his home to Kathmandu before returning, and finally making his way to Darjeeling where his adventures on Everest would begin. Norgay had found his calling as a sherpa and would become one of the most-respected sherpas in the Himalaya region. It was in March 1953 on the lawn of the British Embassy in Kathmandu that Hillary was first charmed by Tenzing’s dazzling smile and the start of an incredibly special relationship was born. I love that Norgay is given as much page time as Hillary. I knew very little about Tenzing Norgay prior to reading this book.
Achieving the impossible dream was about much more than the men who stood on top of the world. Stewart recognises all of those that were involved in the remarkable achievement - the scientists, the kit makers, the sherpas, the climbing team and the wider climbing community. The previous exploits of others provided valuable information and knowledge.
The book is split into four parts which detail the early lives of Hillary and Norgay, The Race for Everest, The Climb and finally The Legacy. The pages are beautifully presented. Each page has been carefully thought through and presented in a way that is engaging and accessible to the reader. The book features family trees, maps, double page spreads that feature stunning artwork and blocks of text, annotated illustrations, timelines, survival guides and newspaper front pages. The story is expertly told by Alexandra Stewart and the superb illustrations by Joe Todd-Stanton sweep you away to the mountains of the Himalayas. There is also the inclusion of a wonderful foreword by legendary explorer Ranulph Fiennes. I love everything about this book. It is beautiful to look at, tells the incredible achievement in a thrilling story and is full of facts and incredible information.
There are so many life messages throughout the book. The climb was a success because the duo were resourceful, resilient, worked as a team, took risks and were able to balance risk with reward. Valuable lessons for any reader - young or old.
The read is exciting, it is thrilling and it fully captures the dangers that Hillary and Norgay faced. Even though this is recounting a historical event, I found times when I was gripping the book as hard as those mountaineers would have been gripping the ice and rock. The tension that the climbers faced on the way to the to summit is palpable
An inspirational read for any would-be-explorers.
Recommended for 9+