Book Review: Adventures with the Vikings

Reading Level

Ages 4-8

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It's always satisfying for the whole story to be told, especially when it's an epic story. The story of Edmund Hillary's ascent of Mount Everest is so familiar to so many people that it begins to reach legendary proportions. Hillary, however, would not have reached the "Top of the World" without the valiant and life-saving efforts of Tenzing Norgay, a Sherpa from Nepal who stood with Hillary on the top of Everest but has gained far less of the international recognition for doing so.

This book, the latest in a growing line that aims to address that imbalance, chronicles the youth of the now-famous Sherpa and how what he learned growing up helped make him the right person in the right place at the right time in history.

The book is notable in that it is written in verse. It's not rhyming poetry so much as it is blank verse; but it is compelling reading all the same, and it tells the story of the boy who dreamed of climbing the mountain his own back yard and ultimately lived that dream.

Young Tenzing had completed all sorts of life-threatening adventures by the time he met Edmund Hillary. Tenzing had traveled far from home and had climbed mountains of stone and mountains of ice and jumped across wide crevasses, all in the pursuit of his ultimate goal, climbing the mountain that he knew as Chomolungma.

Ultimately, on May 29, 1953, Hillary and Norgay stood on top of Chomolungma. Their celebration involved little more than the unfurling of flags and brief views of the surroundings. It was extremely cold at the top, and they ended up staying just 15 minutes before starting down.

In their lives since that momentous day, they enjoyed more than their 15 minutes of fame. Sadly, Norgay died in 1986. Thousands of people came to pay their respects. In the years, more of his story has been told. He continues to be one of the most revered mountain climbers ever.

All of this is brought home to good effect by the verse. Call it a personal preference, but I'm not too wild about the illustrations in this book. They seem too abstract for such young readers—who, it seems to me, need more concrete images to wrap their minds around. The illustrations are done well, they just seem to be not well-suited to the intended audience. The verse, however, is powerful and evoking of emotions, awe, and respects for the famous boy. 

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