A fitting celebration of the first pair of mountaineers to summit Everest.

TWO AT THE TOP

A SHARED DREAM OF EVEREST

Tenzing Norgay, who is ethnically Sherpa, grew up herding yaks in Nepal.

Edmund Hillary, a White man, grew up in New Zealand, where he helped care for his father’s bees. Norgay grew up in the shadow of Chomolungma, the mountain that English speakers call Mount Everest. Throughout his childhood, he climbed the nearby Himalayas, always dreaming of summiting the highest peak. Hillary was a dreamer too, a boy who walked barefoot to school in all weather, forever hoping for adventure. While Norgay’s family affectionately scoffed at his dreams, Hillary’s brother accompanied him on some of his earliest mountaineering expeditions in New Zealand. Hillary gained climbing practice when he served in New Zealand’s air force, then with his parents while vacationing in the Swiss Alps. Norgay, on the other hand, gained climbing practice accompanying the many tourists who visited Nepal and wanted to see the Himalayas. Although these two men led disparate, distant lives, their love of mountaineering brought them together in 1953, when they became the first team to ever climb to the top of Chomolungma. This lyrical, clear, and narratively sophisticated picture book alternates between the voices of Norgay on the left and Hillary on the right until they meet. Each sentence is beautifully crafted and a pleasure to read. Corr’s stylized, painterly illustrations burst with color and energy, wonderfully balancing the finely rendered text. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A fitting celebration of the first pair of mountaineers to summit Everest. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-77306-266-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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A solid, small step for diversifying STEM stories.

ASTRONAUT ANNIE

What does Annie want to be?

As career day approaches, Annie wants to keep her job choice secret until her family sees her presentation at school. Readers will figure it out, however, through the title and clues Tadgell incorporates into the illustrations. Family members make guesses about her ambitions that are tied to their own passions, although her brother watches as she completes her costume in a bedroom with a Mae Jemison poster, starry décor, and a telescope. There’s a celebratory mood at the culminating presentation, where Annie says she wants to “soar high through the air” like her basketball-playing mother, “explore faraway places” like her hiker dad, and “be brave and bold” like her baker grandmother (this feels forced, but oven mitts are part of her astronaut costume) so “the whole world will hear my exciting stories” like her reporter grandfather. Annie jumps off a chair to “BLAST OFF” in a small illustration superimposed on a larger picture depicting her floating in space with a reddish ground below. It’s unclear if Annie imagines this scene or if it’s her future-self exploring Mars, but either scenario fits the aspirational story. Backmatter provides further reading suggestions and information about the moon and four women astronauts, one of whom is Jemison. Annie and her family are all black.

A solid, small step for diversifying STEM stories. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-88448-523-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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Lendroth brings the right ingredients, offering a tale that challenges gender stereotypes and showcases an intergenerational...

NATSUMI!

An exuberant young girl finds her match in taiko drumming.

A whirlwind of energy, Natsumi often hears the words, “Not so fast” or “hard” or “loud” from her family. When she worries her boisterous actions always lead to mistakes, her grandfather finds the perfect outlet: taiko. On stage, Natsumi pounds the large, barrel-shaped drums—their thundering boom an extension of her enthusiastic spirit. Like Kevin Henkes with his water pistol–toting Lilly, Lendroth offers a charming character who defies traditional gender associations. However, her choice to place this modern story in a “village” is interesting. Cultural festivals such as the one she describes are experienced by Japanese-Americans today, and the United States has a thriving taiko or kumidaiko scene, yet Americans do not typically refer to their small towns or rural locations as villages. Acknowledgement that the setting is in Japan in the tale’s initial setup would have been helpful, as it establishes an entirely different lens for readers. Digital art, made to look like marker drawings, are colored in a mostly pastel palette. Unfortunately, while the artist is capable of including more interest and detail in her illustrations, as in her Five Green and Speckled Frogs (2003), she fails to give these characters and setting the specificity she gave generic animals.

Lendroth brings the right ingredients, offering a tale that challenges gender stereotypes and showcases an intergenerational bond, but overall, it’s a disappointing execution to a promising start. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-17090-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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