Roland Smith is one of the most popular current writers in the adventure fiction genre, and this story about a young man who makes an attempt on Everest is one of his best. I'm glad we were able to fit this novel in before the end of the school year, although we definitely cut it close. Two of the commonalities among the characters that populate Smith's books are a young person in some kind of trouble and an older wise person who fills the role of mentor. Another feature of Smith's books, in addition to the action-filled plots, is that they usually include international or domestic air travel. As a teacher, I can appreciate this element because it creates an inclusive worldview in the minds of young readers and by default teaches them not to limit their potential.
Stepping On the Cracks is a perennial favorite of mine. Set in a suburb of Washington, DC, during the Second Great War, this novel was the perfect follow-up to our World War II and Holocaust unit. Complete with bullies, a mysterious stranger, and engaging dialogue, this novel shows the internal and external conflicts of both soldiers and civilians on the homefront while the war raged overseas.