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Roland Smith is the author of over twenty books for children and young adults. He worked for many years as a zookeeper, and a number of his books feature encounters with animals and wildlife. He lives with his wife in Oregon, US.


Here's the perfect antidote for a kid who thinks books are boring. In his latest, Smith (Cryptid Hunters) introduces 14-year-old Peak Marcello (named by his mountaineering parents) as he's arrested for scaling Manhattan's Woolworth Building, in an attempt to graffiti his tag-a blue mountain peak-high on the side of it. Peak is headed for a long stint in juvie when his estranged father swoops into the courtroom with a solution that will get the media's newest darling-the papers have dubbed Peak "Spider Boy"-immediately and far out of sight. Before the trek to China, where Peak's father runs a commercial climbing operation on the Tibetan side of Mount Everest, Peak's English teacher, Vincent, gives him two notebooks to fill, which will complete his requirements for the school year. This conceit allows Peak to tell his story in his own wry voice and to share lots of Vincent's advice. "A good writer should draw the reader in by starting in the middle of the story with a hook," Peak recalls. "I guess Vincent thinks readers are fish." The hook here is irresistible-Peak will try to become the youngest person ever to scale Everest-overcoming Chinese bureaucrats, resentment of his father, rivalry with a Nepalese teen who has the same goal, avalanches, icy crevasses, howling winds, searing cold and many, many frozen corpses to reach the 29,028-foot summit. The nifty plotting, gripping story line and Peak's assured delivery give those who join this expedition much to savor. Ages 12-up. (May) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

'The perfect antidote for a kid who thinks books are boring...The nifty plotting, gripping story line and Peak's assured delivery give those who join this expedition much to savor.' Publisher's Weekly(USA) May 2007'Unashamedly rollicking...big on thrills, full of interesting technical details and loads of feel-good, high-fiving sentiment.'Sunday Age, 5/8/07'...a gripping story that pulls no punches about the toll Everest exacts on body and psyche alike.'Horn Book Magazine, May/June 2007

Though he's only 14 years old, Peak Marcello has climbing in his blood. With two famous climbers for parents, it could have been worse, he says-he might have been named Crampon. When he is caught scaling skyscrapers in New York City, he is sent to live with his father. Turns out, Dad is leading an expedition to Everest and wants Peak to be the youngest climber ever to make the top. Cold Weather Appeal: Brrrrr, but it is cold at the top of the world. The frozen corpses and empty oxygen bottles will be familiar to readers of Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air. Why It Is for Us: Peak combines alpine adventure with a bit of "Free Tibet" commentary, focusing on the plight of the Sherpas who bring the climbers to the top and the border dispute with the Chinese government. Peak himself is a winning protagonist with the sense to know when to step aside for the greater good.-Angelina Benedetti Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Gr 6 Up-In this high-altitude adventure, 14-year-old Peak Marcello's passion for climbing is clearly in the genes, but when he is arrested for scaling tall buildings, his mom and stepdad make a deal with the judge to ship him out of the country to live with her ex-husband and squelch the media attention that might inspire "Spider Boy" copycats. The teen's father, Josh, and his Himalayan expedition company are preparing teams to climb Mount Everest and suddenly Peak is faced with the possibility of becoming the youngest climber to reach the summit. Excited about the adventure, he learns that Josh may have less-than-fatherly motives involving publicity and financial gain for his company, at the expense of his paying customers. Peak is handed off to his father's head Sherpa for training and altitude acclimation with a Nepalese boy his own age, named Sun-jo. At the same time, a media crew gathers at base camp to witness the climb, and an overzealous Chinese police captain doggedly searches for passport violations and underage climbers. Facts about Mount Everest, base camps, and the dangers of climbing are plentiful, depicting an international culture made up of individuals who are often self-absorbed and indifferent to the Tibetan Sherpas, who risk their lives for them. Peak's empathy for Sun-jo helps him make a critical decision as they near the summit, revealing his emotional growth and maturity. A well-crafted plot and exotic setting give the novel great appeal to survival adventure fans.-Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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