Sunday, February 5, 2012

A World Explorer: Sir Edmund Hillary, by Faith Y. Knoop

Faith Yingling Knoop writes a young readers' biography of the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest in A World Explorer: Sir Edmund Hillary. Marketed towards grades 3-6, the book turns Hillary's life into a storybook, complete with interpretive dialogue and illustrations. Knoop does a good job of sorting out the facts of Hillary's life while working them into an enjoyable narrative. There is occasional editing, such as Hillary exclaiming "We knocked it off" upon their return to the South Col and, strangely, Knoop reduces the summit crucifix to a cross and adds some extra summit gifts from Tenzing. The facts of the book come largely from Hillary's perspective, as she leaves in the bit about Tenzing not knowing how to use a camera. (Tenzing claims Hillary never asked, and is quite familiar with cameras in his first English language biography.) Also, the age of this work shows a bit in its somewhat condescending treatment of the Sherpas.  The books age also means that Hillary's life is only covered through his second Antarctic expedition in 1967.

If you come across this book in your local library, I wouldn't turn my nose up at it, but there are better, more recent young readers' biographies out there on Sir Edmund Hillary. Try Sue Muller Hacking's Sir Edmund Hillary: Everest and Beyond or Broughton Coburn's Triumph on Everest.

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