Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Sacred Mountain: Everest

Sacred Mountain: Everest

Christine Taylor-Butler
For ages 9 to 12
Lee & Low Books, 2009   ISBN: 978-1600602559

Most people know that Everest is the tallest mountain in the world. Some people know that two men climbed to the top of the great mountain for the first time on May 29th, 1953. Very few people know anything else about Everest.

Located on the border between Tibet and Nepal, this tallest of mountains is called Sagarmatha by the Nepalese, and the Chinese and Tibetans call it Chomolungma. Westerners call is Everest, after Sir George Everest, who was a surveyor-general in India in the 1800s. To the Tibetans and the Nepalese, Everest is a sacred and holy place. It is the home of numerous gods and goddesses, and those who seek to climb the mountain consider it wise to ask for Everest's "blessing" before they begin their ascent.

The great mountain is home to a "tough, courteous, tolerant, and cheerful" people, the Sherpas, who have learned how to survive at high altitudes, raising animals and growing crops. Traditionally Sherpas were traders who traveled between Nepal and India. These days they are, among other things, farmers, porters, and guides.

The valleys and mountains around Everest also provide a home for numerous species of plants and animals. The reclusive snow leopard lives in this part of the world, as does the Himalayan red panda and the musk deer.

Humans cannot resist a challenge, and climbing Everest has been on the greatest challenges of them all. Many men and women have died trying to climb the mountain. In 1953 Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, a Sherpa, became the first people to successfully climb the great mountain.

Today the people who love this extraordinary part of the world have a new challenge, to ensure that it is preserved and protected so that future generations of Sherpa and visitors can enjoy the beauty of the mountain.

This fascinating book is not only beautifully written, but it is also full of splendid color photographs, diagrams, and maps. Readers will get a real feel for what it would be like to visit Everest, and they will gain an appreciation for its stunning beauty and fragile ecology.