Thursday, February 24, 2022

Racing Storm Mountain and Beyond Possible

Reedy, Trent. Racing Storm Mountain
February 15th 2022 by Norton Young Readers
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

In this sequel to Hunter's Choice, we meet Kelton, who goes to the same school as Hunter. He thinks that Hunter is a rich, spoiled "Richie SuperPop" because his family owns a hunting lodge, and Hunter is friends with Swann Siddiq, whose parents are ultrarich movie stars who have built a mansion in McCall, Idaho. Kelton's mother struggles to make ends meet, and he can't even afford to adopt a mistreated dog, Scruffy, whom he feeds on his way to school. When the town Winter Carnival approaches, the Siddiqs offer prize money and a limited edition snowmobile to the winner of the annual race. Kelton, whose single mother works in a hair salon and has had a series of boyfriends, works on repairing the "sled" left by a previous boyfriend so that he can enter. He despairs of winning against competitors like Hunter or Swann, with their superior equipment, but he has a secret weapon. He knows a better route that is more dangerous but quicker, and will take him past an abandoned mine. Swann, who is his lab partner at school, sees his map, and tells Hunter about it. When the race starts, she and Hunter are close on Kelton's heels. He's understandably angry, especially when things start to go wrong. Not only is there an avalanche, but there are multiple problems with the snowmobiles. As a storm and nightfall approach, the ill-prepared children head for the abandoned mine for shelter. Back in McCall, Hunter's uncle and cousin, Yumi, are working on a rescue plan when the chidlren fail to make the check in point. With conditions worsening, will the three be able to survive?
Strengths: There need to be more outdoor survival books set in the snow swept landscapes, and Reedy pens a great adventure in the mountains of Idaho. While getting on a snowmobile is about the last thing I ever want to do, it's interesting to read about a race across dangerous terrain from the warmth of my easy chair! Kelton has something to prove, and hopes that he can win the prize money to better his home situation. Hunter is a bit embarassed by the publicity he has gotten for his hunting trip, and Swann wants to prove to her parents that she is worth their attention. The dynamic between the three children changes dramatically when they need to rely on each other for survival, especially since none of them were all that prepared! 
Weaknesses: It was somewhat jarring to have Hunter depicted as an unpleasant guy after reading Hunter's Choice, although I could see how Kelton might feel that way about him. I wished that this had started in to the competition more quickly instead of spending time on Kelton's home situation, since some of my readers are unwilling to wait for action in a book. 
What I really think: Hunter's Choice has been very popular in my library, so I will definitely purchase this. It could also be read as a stand alone by readers who like winter survival books like Johnson's  Ice Dogs, Carter's Not if I Save You First, Pyron's Dogs of Winter and Garretson's Wolf Storm

Purja, Nimsdai. Beyond Possible: One Man, 14 Peaks, and the Mountaineering Achievement of a Lifetime. 
January 4th 2022 by National Geographic Kids 
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

Born in Nepal in 1983, Purja's earliest goal was to serve in the British Army with the Brigade of Gurkhas like his father. His father's salary in the service caused the family to struggle a bit, but with the help of his older brothers, he attended a boarding school, and was able to join the Gurkhas in 2003. Eventually, he joined the elite Special Boat Service, which no Gurkha had ever joined. It was tough work, and he was not always treated well by his fellow soliders because of his ethnicity. He was able to take advantage of specialized training, and took a number of climbing courses. This lead to a strong desire to climb Everest, but there were challenges along the way. Even though his first climb had some problems, he was very interested in pursuing this activity, and eventually got on a G200E team trying the climb in 2017. After resigning from the military, he started investigating how he could manage to climb more impressive mountains. This isn't a cheap endeavor, but he undertook efforts to fund Project Possible, as he named his plans. He took money out of equity in his house, and slowly his expeditions gained more attention. He used his adventures to bring attention to climate change, and has so far climbed fourteen of the highest mountains in the world. 

Future adventurers who have read  Olson's nonfiction title Into the Clouds: The Race to Climb the World's Most Dangerous Mountain or the fictional Peak (Smith) or Everest (Korman) series, Beyond Possible offers a fascinating look at what it takes to climb these imposing peaks right now. For me, reading about these climbs is a much better way to experience them than to plan a trip myself, but young readers hungry for adventure will look at Purja's experiences and envision themselves in his hiking boots. His story is inspirational and harrowing all at once. 

My area is home to a fair number of Nepalese immigrants, and I've struggled to find books to represent them. There is some information about his time in Nepal, and what life was like there, and I would have gladly had a few more chapters about that. It will be great to have this book to hand to readers who can see that someone from a similar background can go on to achieve great things. 

The book has lots of action and adventure, and all of the horrifying details about the many, many things that can go wrong on a high peak. I appreciated that there was a discussion of how expensive these operations are, and how many sacrifices Purja and his family made in order for him to have these experiences. If any young readers ever do try similar expeditions, hopefully they will proceed with great caution and preparation. 

There are some greatcolor pictures in the center of the book, a "Lessons from the Death Zone" discussion of life philosophy Purja has taken away from his climbs, and a page of Purja's world records. This is a shorter book (just over 150 pages) that I can see being popular with readers who like nonfiction tales about war or adventures. It reminded me a bit of Banner in the Sky, which was written in 1954 but set in 1856, and just goes to show that reading about harrowing experiences has a long (and chilly!) tradition. 

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