Monday, August 15, 2011

Everest: Triumph and Tragedy on the World's Highest Peak, by Matt Dickinson

Matt Dickinson writes a tactile tribute to Mount Everest for young readers in Everest: Triumph and Tragedy on the World's Highest Peak. Dickinson creates an interactive book, with prayer flags, commercial expedition paperwork, a recreation of Maurice Wilson's diary, and other objects to remove and examine that make this more than the average kids' read. The book covers the history of exploring and climbing the peak as well as the story of joining a commercial expedition to reach the top. The author is a self-professed Everest fan (and real-life summiteer), and he believes that the mountain belongs to everyone, and that its appeal is universal. Instead of a straight telling of Everest's history, Dickinson opts for a sectional focus on interesting aspects of Everest and its climbing history, such as its mapping, the 1953 ascent, notable expeditions, Mallory / Irvine, and its natural and political surroundings. His commercial climb includes sections on equipment, camps, team interaction, and the 1996 disaster that he witnessed (in his The Other Side of Everest).

The book is a handy resource. His information is truthful and thoughtful. I appreciated his inclusion of the commercial expedition documents from Eric Simonson's International Mountain Guides service, as I had read about but never seen things such as physician's releases or body disposal election forms. This is one of the most mature takes on the task of climbing Everest that I've seen for young audiences, and I appreciated his balance of frankness and fondness for the subject. Additionally, his discussion of the complexity of many of the issues surrounding the mountain's history and climbing is a rare find among children's literature. I hope you enjoy it!

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