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Banner in the Sky

post written by Esther Filbrun

Banner in the Sky, by James Ramsey UllmanTitle: Banner in the Sky
James Ramsey Ullman
Major Themes:
1800s, Mountain Climbing, Switzerland
Rudi Matt dreams of climbing the unclimbable Citadel—but will others who believe it is impossible extinguish his hope forever?

Banner in the Sky is a memorable read and an enthralling adventure. Mom read it to my brothers and me for the first time a year ago, and at times we could hardly continue doing the lunch dishes because the action was so intense. I had hardly ever heard a book about mountain climbing before, and this book proved to be a beautiful introduction to the subject.

Rudi Matt yearns to complete the mission his father was unable to finish—climbing the Citadel. While trying to surmount the formidable Fortress—the one thing that makes the mountain one of the earth’s most challenging peaks—Josef Matt was killed, and as a result Rudi is forbidden by his mother to ever become a mountain guide. Instead of pursuing his life-long dream, he is forced to wash dishes at a local hotel.

Rudi cannot stay away from the mountains, however, no matter how much his authorities try to keep him busy. One day while climbing, he hears a shout from below the ice on which he is walking—and narrowly manages to rescue an Englishman from death in a crevice. The Englishman turns out to be a famous mountaineer, who also believes in Rudi’s dream—the Citadel can be climbed. But will Rudi be able to convince his mother and uncle that he should be allowed to try? If he can, will he be able to conquer the unyielding mountain?

It’s hard to remember to breathe while reading—or listening to—this book. Banner in the Sky is a perfect boy’s book, but girls will love it, too. It is a powerful testimony to the fact that boy’s dreams can be fulfilled, if they work hard enough at them. Just be sure that when you read it the dishes are all done.

A note from Emma: “The book was pure torture to read aloud, because I couldn’t read it aloud as fast as I read to myself, and I couldn’t wait to find out how he got out of his tight spots. It was absolutely nerve-wracking!”

WARNING: There is some lying in the story. Also, some of the action may be too intense for younger listeners.

Age Levels:

Read Aloud—Ages 10 – 13
Reading Independently—Ages 12 – 15, 15 and Above


Links to buy Banner in the Sky:




Keywords: Mountain Climbing, Mountaineering, Switzerland

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