Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Mount Everest, by Jill Kalz

Jill Kalz writes a lovely book for young readers in her Mount Everest. The book covers both the natural and social history of the world's highest mountain. She goes into detail about the plate-tectonic formation of the Himalaya (Thank you, Isserman and Weaver for correcting my incorrect usage: there is no such thing as the "Himalayas."), gives a good description of geological makeup of the mountain and its climate, and details its native flora and fauna. The climbing history is somewhat truncated, but then again, people have only been climbing the mountain for 90 years of its 50 million year history, so maybe she gives it too much space! She talks about the early British attempts of the 1920s, the 1953 successful summit, and then gives a general outline of modern climbing of the peak. She also discusses the human impact upon the mountain and gives some details of the Sherpas.

Overall this is a very well-presented and well-researched book. Kalz's facts are all pretty sound, with only a couple moderately misleading statements, and the photographs fit in with the prose and are appropriately labeled. (It's a shame that I even bring up such things, but there are pretty frightening "non-fiction" children's books on Everest out there.) I recommend this book both for the young researcher and for the young reader who'd like to get to know the mountain, especially it's physical makeup. If your son or daughter is looking for a detailed climbing history of the mountain, however, I would instead recommend Salkeld's Climbing Everest. I think Jill Kalz, however gives a proper perspective for a general book on Everest, giving priority to the physical and natural Everest rather than its mountaineering history.

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