A fine choice for both young and older, less-skilled readers.

CLIMBING EVEREST

From the Totally True Adventures series

Edmund Hillary is generally recognized as the first man to reach the summit of Mount Everest; his Nepalese climbing partner, Tenzing Norgay, has received far less attention.

In brief chapters, Herman first describes early efforts to scale Everest, one of which led to the deaths of George Mallory and Andrew Irvine in 1924. She includes basic information about the many challenges climbers faced: poor equipment, avalanche danger, extreme cold and severe storms, and, especially, oxygen deprivation at high altitudes. Biographical information about Mallory, Norgay, and Hillary adds context to their intrepid, driven efforts. Information about the essential role played by numerous skilled Sherpas adds a multicultural element. The rest of this engaging nonfiction tale focuses on Hillary and Norgay's shared climb, truly a team effort that the two men spent most of their lives preparing for. Appealing cover art and a high-interest topic that pairs well with other recent Everest-focused books help make this an easy sell for reluctant readers. Follow-up information on the surviving climbers, a description of a 50th-anniversary expedition to the summit by the sons of Norgay and Hillary in 2003, a list of Mount Everest records, and maps and illustrations (not available for review) round out a balanced and entertaining presentation.

A fine choice for both young and older, less-skilled readers. (Nonfiction. 7-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-553-50986-1

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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An apt choice for collections that already have stronger alternatives, such as R.J. Palacio's Wonder (2012).

UGLY

A memoir of the first 14 years in the life of Australian Robert Hoge, born with stunted legs and a tumor in the middle of his face.

In 1972, Robert is born, the youngest of five children, with fishlike eyes on the sides of his face, a massive lump in place of his nose, and malformed legs. As baby Robert is otherwise healthy, the doctors convince his parents to approve the first of many surgeries to reduce his facial difference. One leg is also amputated, and Robert comes home to his everyday white, working-class family. There's no particular theme to the tale of Robert's next decade and a half: he experiences school and teasing, attempts to participate in sports, and is shot down by a girl. Vignette-driven choppiness and the lack of an overarching narrative would make the likeliest audience be those who seek disability stories. However, young Robert's ongoing quest to identify as "normal"—a quest that remains unchanged until a sudden turnaround on the penultimate page—risks alienating readers comfortable with their disabilities. Brief lyrical moments ("as compulsory as soggy tomato sandwiches at snack time") appeal but are overwhelmed by the dry, distant prose dominating this autobiography.

An apt choice for collections that already have stronger alternatives, such as R.J. Palacio's Wonder (2012). (Memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-425-28775-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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What makes one person step into danger to help others? A question worthy of discussion, with this title as an admirable...

THE BRAVE CYCLIST

THE TRUE STORY OF A HOLOCAUST HERO

An extraordinary athlete was also an extraordinary hero.

Gino Bartali grew up in Florence, Italy, loving everything about riding bicycles. After years of studying them and years of endurance training, he won the 1938 Tour de France. His triumph was muted by the outbreak of World War II, during which Mussolini followed Hitler in the establishment of anti-Jewish laws. In the middle years of the conflict, Bartali was enlisted by a cardinal of the Italian church to help Jews by becoming a document courier. His skill as a cyclist and his fame helped him elude capture until 1944. When the war ended, he kept his clandestine efforts private and went on to win another Tour de France in 1948. The author’s afterword explains why his work was unknown. Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust museum, honored him as a Righteous Among the Nations in 2013. Bartali’s is a life well worth knowing and well worthy of esteem. Fedele’s illustrations in mostly dark hues will appeal to sports fans with their action-oriented scenes. Young readers of World War II stories will gain an understanding from the somber wartime pages.

What makes one person step into danger to help others? A question worthy of discussion, with this title as an admirable springboard. (photograph, select bibliography, source notes) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68446-063-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Capstone Editions

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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