GREAT MYSTERIES OF THE ICE AND SNOW by Edward F. Dolan Jr. (Dodd, Mead: $8.95; 117 pp.; age 10 and up). In 1953, when Sir Edmund Hillary became the first man to conquer Mount Everest, a curious piece of news surfaced: He and his Sherpa guide, Tenzing Norgay, had fought giant footprints in the snow, refueling belief that the Abominable Snowman does indeed exist. How Hillary obtains a scalp thought to belong to Yeti and how he takes it to experts around the world are just part of the fascinating details in this hi/lo ("high interest, low reading level") adventure book.
Liberally illustrated with maps and photos, some of the mysteries are ones which have been solved, such as the fate of three explorers who vanished in 1897 when they tried to fly their hot-air balloon to the North Pole. Some puzzles remain deliciously eerie, such as the disappearance of Dougherty Island near Antarctica. And how did Octavius , with a crew long frozen to death, make its way through the Northwest Passage 131 years before the route's official discovery?
One wishes for more than just this handful of stories, but these are descriptive enough to pique curiousity and possibly catapult young readers to the library for more, as suggested by the author.
Another adventurer, it turns out, was HARRY'S MOM (by Barbara Ann Porte, pictures by Yossi Abolafia; Greenwillow: $10.95; 56 pp.; ages 6-9). In this delightful "read-alone" story, Harry tries to find out more about his mother, who died driving a race car when he was a year old. He learns that she climbed mountains, parachuted, scuba dived and was a sports reporter, but more important, that she loved him very much. Aunt Rose, his grandparents and his father reminisce with Harry, admitting they miss her, too. Scenes are touching without being sentimental, warm but not sappy. That Harry is much loved by his entire family is what young readers will cherish.
The importance of family is also a theme in THE KIDS' HANDBOOK by Los Angeles author Kelly Adachi (Lyle Stuart: $5.95; 104 pp.; ages 6-12), a lively self-helper on how to get along with "almost everybody." This is a friendly paperback filled with humorous drawings and pages bordered by mosaics. Advice is sensible and funny; try not to smell bad or stash dirty laundry under the bed; don't hog the computer or wreck someone else's disc; appreciate the nice things that happen in your household.
Although the author incorrectly says "All families send their kids to school," this is a minor distraction from her otherwise sound counsel, counsel which can easily serve parents, too.