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  New York Times Review

IN September 1993, cold, hungry and lost after a failed ascent of K2, Greg Mortenson stumbled into the village of Korphe, Pakistan. His misstep forever changed the lives of thousands of Pakistani and Afghan children. In gratitude to the people of the village who helped him, Mortenson vowed to build a school for their children, who were studying in the open air, scratching in the mud with sticks. Keeping that vow turned Mortenson - a laid-back drifter, emergency nurse by profession and climber by avocation - into a driven fund-raiser who helped found, and now directs, the Central Asia Institute. Mortenson didn't stop with one school: realizing how desperately children in the region needed education, he traveled to the remotest outposts of Pakistan and Afghanistan to create more. His foundation has built 78 schools, which have educated 28,000 children, including more than 18,000 girls, who had rarely received an education before. This story is familiar by now to the 1.2 million adults who have kept Mortenson's book "Three Cups of Tea" on the bestseller list for more than two years. The success of his book has led to these two new versions for young readers. "Listen to the Wind" tells Mortenson's story in the clear, succinct voices of the children of Korphe. Leaving out background and history, the picture-book version is nevertheless true to the spirit of Mortenson's experience and mission. The minimal text is splendidly paired with Susan L. Roth's textural, earth-toned collages, which evoke the roughness of the terrain and the primitive quality of life there. A community spirit pervades: on nearly every spread, we see the multitude of villagers (girls in colorful headscarves; dark-haired boys) who worked with Mortenson to build their school. "Our mothers carried water to mix the cement. . . . With our small fingers we wedged tiny slivers of stones into the cement to make the walls stronger." The raw quality of the art is counterbalanced by a "Korphe Scrapbook" of color photos documenting the people and places, helping answer a child's question: Is this true? "Three Cups of Tea: Young Readers Edition" aims to stay faithful to Mortenson's story and to inspire readers. It is chockfull of extras, including an introduction by Jane Goodall, a timeline, a glossary, a "who's who" and a lengthy, affecting interview with Mortenson's 12-year-old daughter, Amira. Framed by so many elements, however, the story itself loses impact. Boldface vocabulary words direct readers to the glossary but are distracting and create an off-putting textbook aura. In her pared-down version, Sarah Thomson has kept the pacing and the cast of characters intact, but flat renditions of events like Mortenson's armed kidnapping, just weeks before the birth of his daughter, fail to capture the power of the original. Yet this edition is valuable: Children have contributed in practical ways to Mortenson's mission, and there is no shyness here about calling them to action. Krystyna Poray Goddu's most recent book is "Dollmakers and Their Stories."

  Library Journal Review

Greg Mortenson and coauthor David Oliver Relin recount Mortenson's crossroad and what he did about it. After a near fatal attempt to climb Himalayan peak K2, Mortenson was nursed and sheltered by villagers in a remote area of Pakistan. Following his recovery, he promised to return and build the village its first school. That project has now grown to include more than 50 schools across Pakistan and Afghanistan, with a particular focus to bring educational opportunities to young girls. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Booklist Review

This young-reader's edition of the eponymous New York Times best-seller for adults presents an abbreviated, simplified account of Mortenson's life-saving mountain rescue by Pakistani villagers that inspired his life's work: building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Most significant in this version is the emphasis on young people, evident in new photographs of youth and in the extended interview with Mortenson's 12-year-old daughter, Amira, who describes her overseas experiences with her parents, and then waiting at home while her father travels the world. Amira's substantive answers show her direct involvement with her father's work: I got my dad to start a lunch program in some of the schools. And they also reveal the deep, personal impact of global tensions on the family: My dad's a peacemaker, and some people hate him or are jealous. He has been threatened to be killed. With all the recent buzz about Mortenson's story, this accessible title is sure to draw attention. For the picture-book audience, suggest Mortenson's Listen to the Wind (2009), coauthored and illustrated by Susan L. Roth.--Engberg, Gillian Copyright 2009 Booklist

  Kirkus Review

An unlikely diplomat scores points for America in a corner of the world hostile to all things American--and not without reason. Mortenson first came to Pakistan to climb K2, the world's second-tallest peak, seeking to honor his deceased sister by leaving a necklace of hers atop the summit. The attempt failed, and Mortenson, emaciated and exhausted, was taken in by villagers below and nursed back to health. He vowed to build a school in exchange for their kindness, a goal that would come to seem as insurmountable as the mountain, thanks to corrupt officials and hostility on the part of some locals. Yet, writes Parade magazine contributor Relin, Mortenson had reserves of stubbornness, patience and charm, and, nearly penniless himself, was able to piece together dollars enough to do the job; remarks one donor after writing a hefty check, "You know, some of my ex-wives could spend more than that in a weekend," adding the proviso that Mortenson build the school as quickly as possible, since said donor wasn't getting any younger. Just as he had caught the mountaineering bug, Mortenson discovered that he had a knack for building schools and making friends in the glacial heights of Karakoram and the remote deserts of Waziristan; under the auspices of the Central Asia Institute, he has built some 55 schools in places whose leaders had long memories of unfulfilled American promises of such help in exchange for their services during the war against Russia in Afghanistan. Comments Mortenson to Relin, who is a clear and enthusiastic champion of his subject, "We had no problem flying in bags of cash to pay the warlords to fight against the Taliban. I wondered why we couldn't do the same thing to build roads, and sewers, and schools." Answering by delivering what his country will not, Mortenson is "fighting the war on terror the way I think it should be conducted," Relin writes. This inspiring, adventure-filled book makes that case admirably. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Summary
The astonishing, uplifting story of a real-life Indiana Jones and his humanitarian campaign to use education to combat terrorism in the Taliban's backyard<br> <br> Anyone who despairs of the individual's power to change lives has to read the story of Greg Mortenson, a homeless mountaineer who, following a 1993 climb of Pakistan's treacherous K2, was inspired by a chance encounter with impoverished mountain villagers and promised to build them a school. Over the next decade he built fifty-five schools--especially for girls--that offer a balanced education in one of the most isolated and dangerous regions on earth. As it chronicles Mortenson's quest, which has brought him into conflict with both enraged Islamists and uncomprehending Americans, Three Cups of Tea combines adventure with a celebration of the humanitarian spirit.
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