From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 3-In 1905, eight-year-old Harriet Peters became the youngest climber ever to reach the summit of Longs Peak in Colorado. Guided by Enos Mills, the man later responsible for the creation of Rocky Mountain National Park, spunky Harriet braved the elements to reach the top of the mountain, spurred on by the memory of her mother who died before realizing her dream of completing the climb. This poignant tale, based on a true story, is retold in lyrical language and accompanied by dazzling watercolors. Known for his realistic landscapes, Lewin does an excellent job of depicting the child's struggle against nature. The climb begins before dawn; the accompanying illustrations reveal a deep blue forest lit with touches of orange on the riders' faces and horses' manes, reflecting the rising sun. After daybreak, the paintings change from the warm, clear light of sun-dappled meadows to the cool, icy blue of a sudden snowstorm as the party ascends the mountain. Throughout, luminous highlights mold the characters' faces in a chiaroscuro reminiscent of the work of Caravaggio. To round out the tale, Barron's endnotes identify his primary sources and include a photo of Peters taken the day of the climb, revealing Lewin's faithful reproduction of her costume. With its dramatic artwork, this gripping saga is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.Laurie Edwards, West Shore School District, Camp Hill, PA
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Gr. 1-4. This is a handsome book, no doubt about it, and at first the story seems amazing. In 1905, eight-year-old Harriet Logan climbed more than 14,000 feet to the summit of Colorado's Longs Peak. Guiding her was Enos Mills, an early advocate for making the area a national park. Also with her was her father, both of them endeavoring to honor Harriet's deceased mother, who dreamed of making the climb. Pa doesn't make it, but Harriet struggles to the top, and as Mills promises, sees many surprises along the way, capped by the view from the summit, where Harriet feels "high as a hawk." It's hard to imagine artwork more perfect than Lewin's to chronicle this remarkable journey. Sweeping vistas, tinted with just the right light, are juxtaposed against near-photographic depictions of Harriet and Mills forging their way up the mountain. The book concludes with an author's note, and suddenly, almost everything readers thought to be true is in question. Harriet and Mills did make the climb, but was it because of Harriet's mother? Was her father really along? Who took the photo of Harriet and Mills at the summit? Barron gives few clues, almost writing around the logical questions ("While I have used some poetic license, the story's historical basis in their successful climb is accurate"). Then he thanks Mills' and Harriet's descendants, but what they contributed, he doesn't say. This may be historical fiction, but a few more facts wouldn't have hurt. Ilene CooperCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved