“Perfect Picture Book” Friday

First to the Top

Written by:   David Hill

Illustrated by: Phoebe Morris

Published by:  Puffin Books of Penguin Random House New Zealand 2015

Ages:   3 – 10 years

Theme: Courage, skill, determination

Opening Lines: When Edmund Hillary was a boy in New Zealand, he built rafts to explore the Waikato River. When he grew up, he explored other places. He climbed mountains. He rossed Antarctica. He was one of the first two men to reach the summit of Mt Everest, the world’s highest peak. This is his story.

Synopsis: Up on the world’s highest mountain, the sky is tinged the black colour of space and the air is almost too thin to breathe.

How did Ed, a small, shy boy from New Zealand, grow up to become the world’s most famous mountaineer and adventurer? How did he climb Everest and do so many other astonishing things?

This exceptional picture book, written by internationally acclaimed children’s author David Hill and illustrated by Phoebe Morris, tells the story of Sir Edmund Hillary and his climb to the top of Mt Everest. It’s a story about courage, skill and determination, and an inspiration to anyone who dreams of reaching the top.

Why I like this: This is an inspiring story of courage and determination. When researching this book I found one of the reviews on amazon best described how I felt about this book…   following the life of Sir Edmund as a child in rural New Zealand to being one of the first to climb Mt Everest. Planning, and creating the perilous journey up the mountain. I appreciated how respectfully the Himalayan mountain guides were represented, and the lifetime friendship that Sir Edmund forged with his personal mountain guide, Tenzing Norgay was heart-warming. The book describes how Sir Edmund frequently returned to Nepal and helped fund schooling and resources for the people there. Children will enjoy the animated cartoon-like characters depicted in the cool crisp snowy illustrations. Informative and also included a timeline in the back.

Resources/Findings: Here is a write up from Penguin Books regarding prolific and highly regarded New Zealand author David Hill and his many books and accolades and awards they have each received.   Too many to mention I thought I would just post the link for you to read….   https://www.penguin.co.nz/authors/david-hill

David Hill was interviewed for Taranaki News in November 2018 in which alongside great photos of him at work, it also tells of his thoughts and processes in writing for children, from picture book, middle grade and young adult. He shares interesting facts in research for his New Zealand icons series. And when he wrote First to the Top the Ed Hillary tale, he reached great heights with his word count. The first draft was 6000 words long, so when he cut it down to 2000, he thought he’d done so well he sent it off to the publisher. He received a short and not-so-sweet email: “David can’t you bloody count?” Read all about it here….   https://www.stuff.co.nz/taranaki-daily-news/lifestyle/108933492/david-hill–a-writer-in-full-and-messy-flight

A little about the illustrator Phebe Morris… http://phoebemorriscreative.com/about

Although I didn’t find any teacher resources here are some questions that could be used…..

Who first climbed Mt Everest?

Did Sherpas climb Everest first?

How many times did Hillary climb Everest?

Did Hillary climb Everest with oxygen?

Was Edmund Hillary British?

Can you climb Mount Everest without a guide?

Who was first Hillary or Norgay?

Where can you see Edmund Hillary today?

Is it hard to climb Mount Everest?

How many camps did they have on Mount Everest?

What did Edmund Hillary and his brother do as children?

What do you think Edmund Hillary took with him when he climbed Mount Everest?

I’m always happy reviewing Picture Books that come my way and share them with you.  If you would like to see more please pop over to Susanna Leonard Hills Blog where there are hundreds of books reviewed by other like minded authors and writers.  Thank you for popping in and I hope you return again soon.

About Diane Tulloch

Known also as the Patientdreamer I am a writer who loves to dream, and is passionate about writing stories for the young so that they may join me in the wonders of adventure in countries and cultures afar, and in special moments to remember.
This entry was posted in Perfect Picture Book Review, Picture book, Picture Book Review, Susanna's PPB Fridays and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to “Perfect Picture Book” Friday

  1. Darlene says:

    I love picture books based on real people. And Edmund Hillary is certainly a New Zealand hero.

  2. I love seeing books about unlikely adventurers, heroes, etc. It gives kids an idea that they, too, can achieve such things! Thanks for this rec!

  3. Joanna says:

    I am so surprised but I think this is the first PB biography of Hilary that I have come across, and there must be a ton out there. So glad the sherpas were well represented too. Great choice.

  4. Looks like a great pick! Thanks for sharing and reviewing. I’ll be on the lookout!

  5. Great pick and review Diane! I will see if I can find this one my library. Thanks for featuring it. 🙂

  6. Diane, thanks for sharing a fun non-fiction book that uses story to engage the child! Tenzing Norgay was a name that stuck with me when I first read about Sir Edmund Hilary in my childhood days. 🙂

  7. Sue Heavenrich says:

    I remember reading stories about Sir Edmund and Tenzing Norgay. What bold explorers. Unfortunately, now Everest is so crowded there is a traffic jam on the final ascent.

    • Hi Sue, gosh I am so pleased that you have heard about Sir Edmund and Tenzing. Yep there were very brave. I know it’s terrible how crowded it is on Everest and I hear there have been deaths due to the overcrowding and having to wait for so long in the queue in the freezing temperatures. Terrible!

  8. Sarah Tobias says:

    Sounds like a fun book to read. I will be on the look out for it. Thank you for sharing.

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