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Meet Sir Edmund Hillary, a shy but determined beekeeper from New Zealand who dreamed of being the first person to climb to the summit of Mt Everest, the world's tallest mountain.

David Hill and Phoebe Morris's award-winning picture book tells the story of Sir Ed and his climb to the top of Mt Everest. It's a story about courage, skill and determination, and an inspiration to anyone who dreams of reaching the top.

Up on the world's highest mountain, the sky is tinged the black colour of space and the air is almost too thin to breathe.
How did Ed, a small, shy boy from the tiny town of Tuakau in New Zealand, grow up to become the world's most famous mountaineer and adventurer? How did he climb Everest and do so many other astonishing things?
This exceptional picture book, written by internationally acclaimed children's author David Hill and illustrated by Phoebe Morris, tells the story of Sir Ed and his climb to the top of Mt Everest. It's a story about courage, skill and determination, and an inspiration to anyone who dreams of reaching the top.

2016 Nonfiction winner of the HELL Children’s Choice Awards

2016 Storylines Notable Picture Book

2015 New Zealand Listener Top 50 Children's Books


How can you possibly sum up the life of Sir Edmund Hillary in a picture book? Taking on a challenge that would have seen lesser writers fail, David Hill, best known for his award-winning children's fiction, captures the essence of the mountaineer's life in a taut yet never simplistic text, while Wellingtonian Phoebe Morris makes a stunning debut as an illustrator. First to the Top introduces Sir Ed to a new generation in a splendid homegrown picture book paying tribute to the heroic mountaineer's remarkable life. From the arresting cover, through cameos of his younger life to haunting, other-worldly mountainscapes, Morris's style gives the old story a cool new edge.

Ann Packer, NZ Listener

What I noticed while reading the book to my four-year-old son was a swelling of pride at, and there's no other way to put it, the New Zealandness of the story. It led my son and I to talk about how to be in the world, which all of the best children's stories do (and adult stories, for that matter). First to the Top: Sir Edmund Hillary's Amazing Everest Adventure highlights a certain New Zealand identity: a desire to be in the outdoors, a curiosity that when combined with hard work drives us overseas and to greatness; our deep streak of sensibleness and humility. It is also quite funny in places; when Ed is knighted by the queen the book states, 'He told friends, "Now I'll have to buy some new bee-keeping overalls".' ... It is easily the best children's book I've read this year.

Sarah-Jane Barnett, Booksellers NZ Blog

...another great book for encouraging children to dream big and work hard to achieve their dreams.

Swings and Roundabouts

Respected children's author David Hill has penned this biography of one of our most famous and well-loved New Zealanders, tracing ''Sir Ed's'' birth and education to his wartime and mountaineering achievements . . . For me, the richly coloured but uncluttered illustrations by first-time children's illustrator Phoebe Morris are the standout element.

Helen Speirs, Otago Daily Times

His stories are wonderful, full of action and are always teaching the reader about some aspect of our amazing country and our people.

Gisborne Herald

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Formats & editions

  • Hardback


    July 29, 2015

    Picture Puffin

    32 pages

    RRP $19.99

    Online retailers

    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Dymocks
    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

Awards and Recognition

  • New Zealand Book Awards for Children & Young Adults
    Winner of the Hell Children's Choice Award for Non-fiction
  • Storylines Notable Book Award
    Notable Book
    Picture Book