Two at the Top: A Shared Dream of Everest

Groundwood. Oct. 2021. 32p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781773062662.
Gr 1-4–This vibrantly illustrated picture book is the story of Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary and the separate journeys that led to their climbing the world’s highest mountain together. A note helps readers position themselves for what unfolds: “This story is an account of historical events, told through the literary device of imagined first-person voices.” Each spread shows Norgay on the left, growing up in Nepal, and Hillary on the right, growing up in New Zealand; readers will learn how the men’s experiences inspired and prepared them to become the first to climb Mount Everest. Norgay’s and Hillary’s extensive climbing experiences gave each man the stamina and strength to withstand the difficulties of that famous trek up Everest. Each man’s story is given equal weight, which is refreshingly different from older accounts of that climb, where it was implied that Hillary was the star of the show. The book also notes the massive number of supporting climbers. The artwork is brightly colored and has a folkloric feel to it, perhaps a nod to the folklore of Nepal and New Zealand. The author’s notes give background information on the mountain, as well as the region of Nepal, and there is a short bibliography that might lead readers to more research.
VERDICT Readers and teachers will appreciate the dual points of view in this modern biography as opposed to the more singular view that readers have been offered in the past. A great choice for biography sections needing fresh perspectives on historical figures.

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