Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Peak by Roland Smith
Peak Marcello is a good kid, but he doesn’t always make the best decisions in the world. Case in point: he decides to climb outside of the Woolworth Building in New York City. He gets caught (naturally) and placed in the juvenile detention center to await trial. While he’s there, another teenager decides to be a copycat, tries to climb the Flatiron Building, and dies when he falls seventy-five feet. The authorities want to make an example out of him, and that means Peak could spend the next three years in jail. Fortunately for him, there’s another choice. Peak’s father is a famous climber currently living in Thailand, and he offers to take Peak with him to live until the publicity dies down.
What Peak (and his mother) don’t realize is that his father has an ulterior motive. His expedition business is in jeopardy of failing, but if he can get a fourteen-year old boy up the summit of Mt. Everest, then the publicity gained would allow the business to survive, even thrive. The hitch? Climbing Mt. Everest is extremely dangerous for an adult, not to mention a 14 year-old boy. Peak has to acclimate and be ready to summit by the very narrow window of time Everest allows.
Another part of the story is that of a young boy from Nepal (a week older than Peak) who is Peak’s rival in that he also wants to summit Everest – but his goal is due to trying to use the publicity (and the resulting money) to take care of his sisters and go back to school.
From the books I’ve read about climbing Mount Everest, Peak is accurate. It’s also very exciting. I’m planning to pair it with Within Reach: My Everest Story, an autobiography by Mark Pfetzer. I got the book from my daughter who has read it twice. I think it will be a hit among my middle school students.