First to the Top by David Hill, Illus. Phoebe Morris.
At 11.30am on Friday 29 May 1953 Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay stood on the top of Mt Everest, the World’s highest mountain for the first time as part of a British expedition. They stayed there for 15 minutes before making their way down and both climbers left something up there. To find out what they left you will have to read this book.
This is an easy to read picture book sized story for young readers aged pre school to middle school and it is very good.
David Hill is an acclaimed New Zealand author and he tells the story from when Ed was a shy boy with high hopes from Tuakau through to the ascent of Everest and his adventures after the climb. He creates tension in the climb with text in large black font when the only sounds Hillary and Norgay heard were the Hiss of Oxygen, the Moan of the Wind and their Panting breath.
Phoebe Morris debuts as an illustrator and she compliments the text beautifully. From the Kiwi landscape and Ed’s tramping kit and bicycle to the peaks of the Himalayas. There is drama as Norgay saves Ed from a fall in a crevase and when they climb Everst there is menace and danger in the ice and snow around.
Morris captures the Britishness of the climbing expedition with the moustachioed upper lip and binoculars reflecting Ed and Norgay in the lenses, to the Sherlock Holmes pipe of another companion. There is also the serenity in the faces of the Sherpas.
This book is an essential purchase for School libraries and in the home. A good adventure story with drama.