Tod Olson’s Into the Clouds is a fantastic nonfiction narrative

Into the CloudsINTO THE CLOUDS: THE RACE TO CLIMB THE WORLD’S MOST DANGEROUS MOUNTAIN, by Tod Olson, Scholastic Focus, April 21, 2020, Hardcover, $18.99 (ages 8-12)

Mt. Everest. It’s probably the best-known mountain on the planet. It’s the one climbers dream of summitting. Or is it?

For Charlie Houston, it was always K2, the second-highest mountain in the world, that he dreamed of conquering.

In 1953, as two men summit Mt. Everest for the first time, Charlie Houston and a team of mountaineers carve a path up the deadly K2. Four Houston, reaching the top of K2 is a lifelong dream, an obsession that began 15 years earlier on his first expedition there.

Since then, another American expedition has fallen apart on the remote, windswept mass of rock and ice.

Now, Houston’s team follows in their tracks. With the summit in their grasp, a vicious storm and a sudden illness puts their own expedition on the edge of disaster, turning their qust to conquer a mountain into one of the most daring rescue missions ever. —Synopses provided by Scholastic

Into the Clouds follows the experiences of three groups of mountaineers as they took on K2. Bound together by the love of climbing, these men were pushed to their absolute limit and beyond.

Into the Clouds is one of my favorite books of 2020. It’s a gripping nonfiction narrative that transports readers directly to the side of the mountain. This is a book you get lost in. I found myself gobbling up chapters late into the night, and it wasn’t until after I finished that I realized I was reading it not as a “reviewer” but as a someone utterly swept away.

Into the Clouds works in every way. It is meticulously researched with a comprehensive list of sources and source notes included at the end. The inclusion of photos from the actual expeditions adds another dimension, allowing you to not only put faces to names but to better understand the terrain and conditions the climbers encountered.

I highly recommend Into the Clouds for middle-graders, young adults and adults. It’s a fascinating read that sticks with you.

Tod Olson is the author of the narrative nonfiction series, LOST, and the historical fiction series How to Get Rich. He has written for national magazines on the Columbine school shooting, homeless teens, the murder of Matthew Shepard, and many other stories of interest to children and young adults. Tod holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and lives in Vermont with his family, his mountain bike, and his electric reclining chair. To learn more, and to download free teaching resources, visit his website:


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About Author

Jessica Harrison is the main reviewer behind Cracking the Cover. Prior to creating Cracking the Cover, Jessica worked as the in-house book critic for the Deseret News, a daily newspaper in Salt Lake City. Jessica also worked as a copy editor and general features writer for the paper. Following that, Jessica spent two years with an international company as a social media specialist. She is currently a freelance writer/editor. She is passionate about reading and giving people the tools to make informed decisions in their own book choices.

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