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Banner in the Sky

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  3,815 ratings  ·  393 reviews
The Citadel

It stands unconquered, the last great summit of the Alps. Only one man has ever dared to approach the top, and that man died in his pursuit. He was Josef Matt, Rudi Matt's father.

At sixteen, Rudi is determined to pay tribute to the man he never knew, and complete the quest that claimed his father's life. And so, taking his father's red shirt as a flag, he heads
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Paperback, 288 pages
Published April 15th 1988 by HarperTeen (first published January 1st 1954)
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Melissa It depends on what kind of book you're looking for. This book has high adventure, wonderful morals, and lots of descriptive language. It is not a…moreIt depends on what kind of book you're looking for. This book has high adventure, wonderful morals, and lots of descriptive language. It is not a light, breezy read for the beach. But you can have a lot of fun with it. I think it makes a great read aloud.(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,815 ratings  ·  393 reviews


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Although James Ramsey Ullman's 1955 Newbery Honour winning Banner in the Sky is at times a bit dated (but considering that it is set in 19th century Switzerland, much of said datedness actually does make rather much historic and cultural sense), the novel is in many ways a truly delightful and even for our times, even for the 21st century, sill relevant coming of age story (of how Rudi Matt desires and manages to pay homage to the memory of the father he has never known by attempting to conquer ...more
Matt
May 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Matt by: Teacher
I've read this book before, and I have always loved it. A teacher back in middle school made us read this book and it has always stuck with me. Sometime last year I purchased this book and it has been sitting on my shelf for some time. I am currently re-reading it and I am enjoying just as much as I did when I had read it years ago. If you like adventure books and maybe books about foreign places, this is the book for you. Well at least try it. It's not a fast paced read, but it keeps you intere ...more
Cheryl
Jun 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
I thought that this Newbery honor book was going to be just another boy's historical adventure, and that I'd get fed up with it and choose to DNF. I was wrong.

It is an adventure. It is about a world which was not relevant to women. But it's about a 16 yo boy who, through the course of the book, becomes a man. And it's cleanly, crisply written, easy enough to read that I stayed up way past my bedtime and finished it.

What's most interesting about it is all the lying and other moral quandaries and
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IanL
Sep 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
In the book, Rudi Matt's father died on the citadel, a mountain that he wanted to conquer. But since his father died on the mountain, Rudi's mother and uncle won't let him climb, even though it's in his blood. Rudi would still sneak off to the citadel to try and climb up the glacier and find a route up to the fortress, the place his father died. One day, Rudi is climbing the glacier and heard someone screaming for help from a crevasse, Rudi helped the person out of the crevasse and it turned out ...more
Allison Tebo
Feb 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical-fic
A lovely, old-fashioned flow of writing and the very best sort of a coming-of-age story. Rudi’s arc and the relationships in this book are carefully crafted. There is a great deal more description than dialogue (not a trial to me) and the author’s ability to paint an immersive picture are on fine display. Banner in the Sky radiates with an instinctive accuracy, and it is clear the the author’s own adventurous life and mountaineering background serve him well, as he plunges us into a dizzying and ...more
Cindy
Sep 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
When Joe told me that this was one of his favorite books, I immediately got it at the library and LOVED it! It is a great book about mountain climbing, lots of cool techinical stuff for mountaineers like Joe, yet understandable for those of us with no mountain climbing experience. But it is so much more! It's a beautiful story about conquering fear, working toward a goal, the effects of selfishness and the rewards of selflessness, banding together for the common good, and so much more. In his in ...more
Krista
Apr 21, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: middle-grades
Although this book was lovely to read. Some parts really dragged and dragged. I felt like it was very slow. My son also felt it was slow as we co-read it together. Not a bad book, just ok. A lot of the story focuses on climbing obviously but those are the drawn out parts.
Wm. Anthony Connolly
Jun 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A junior high school required text. Very fond of it then and one of the early indications my life would be filled with books.
Luisa Knight
This was a hard book to put down! For those adventurous souls that like to read about daring and do, this is a gutsy mountain climbing story that provides some good moral lessons to discuss too.

Though the names have been changed, the story is based off of the first successful climbing of the Matterhorn (Not only did Walt Disney make a movie of this book (Third Man on the Mountain) but perhaps this book inspired him to make the iconic ride we see at Disneyland?!!). The author won a Newbery Honor
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Thomas Krause
May 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Ok, so this is a book for 6th - 8th graders that I was assigned to read for a course I am teaching this summer, and I expected to get through it, but I did not expect to enjoy the book as much as I did. This is an exciting coming-of-age adventure about rock climbing that kept me in suspense and surprise the entire read. I really friggin’ enjoyed myself! While the strange forged friendships of the book are enjoyable, the true beauty of this book lies in the main character Rudi’s solo climbing adv ...more
Carlos S
Feb 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Banner in the sky by James Ramsey Ullman is a realistic fiction set in the Swiss Alps. The story is based on the ascent of the Matterhorn. The book follows Rudi Matt as he dares to conquer the final undiscovered peak of the Alps.
Given the story’s focus, it is no surprise the amount of detail given to the mountain itself. The book spends paragraphs devoted to describing all the mountains edges and cliffs, and the difficulty in climbing them. The climbing itself is so vividly described that it is
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Manik Sukoco
Dec 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sixteen-year-old Rudi Matt works as a hotel dishwasher in the 19th Century Swiss village of Kurtal. Every day of his life he's stared up at the Citadel, the one remaining unclimbed peak in the Alps. Fifteen years ago three men tried that climb. One, the hotel cook who is Rudi's boss, came back crippled. Two were carried down dead: Guide Josef Matt, Rudi's father, and his client, a great English mountaineer.
Rudi understands why his mother forbids him to follow his father's profession, even though
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Orin
Dec 16, 2010 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Marie
Jul 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful book. I’ve loved this story for over 50 years. As a young woman I watched Disney’s “Third Man on the Mountain”. Many years later my son, knowing how much I loved the movie, gave me this book for a birthday gift......this is the book that the movie was based on. After all these years I still can’t get enough of it. I still enjoy every thrilling second! Feeling the magnificence of the mountains; the beauty, the fresh air, the smells. But most of all the determination and hard work ...more
Stacy
Feb 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I have ever read. I highly recommend this to families! So many spiritual metaphors to gain from here. ❤ ...more
Blue_Girl
Jan 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book is like climbing up a mountain, you keep climbing and climbing with all you might, but your slipping. You slipped and then fell 30 feet onto the hard cold ground. The author of Banner in the Sky is James Ramsey Ullman. Banner in the sky won the Newberry honor. This book has a fantastic detail, but I don’t think there is enough action in the book for me. If you like a book with mostly character description more than action this might be a book you’ll enjoy.
Banner in the Sky is based on
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Simon
Jan 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Book Review For Banner In the Sky
He went up.
The red flannel shirt shakes wildly on the summit of the Citadel.
He went down, down and down.
Down to the Citadel.
The first peak of the Scandinavian sun light melts the flimsy layer of the pure snow on the Citadel's summit, on the summit was hope, it was the dream for several generations on kurtalers, it was supposed to be Rudi's mountain, but now, the summit was silence, the silence of death, I will wait, wait for Rudi Matt. I peacefully closed the
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Tom
Nov 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This review was written for 5th and 6th graders:

Just like with music, there are many good books that are popular for a few years after they come out. Some of these books stay popular. Books like Charlotte's Web, A Wrinkle in Time, and presumably Harry Potter stay popular favorites for generations after they are written. Other excellent books slowly fade away. Banner in the Sky is one of these excellent books that has faded away a bit over time. It was a Newbury Honor Book in 1954 when it was ori
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LobsterQuadrille
May 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: adventure story fans of any age
4.5 stars

I just completed my second re-read of Banner in the Sky, and I think I have found myself enjoying it more each time. Don't be dissuaded by the fact that this is a children's/teen adventure; it is a beautifully crafted story that really delivers on its moral but still shows the harsh realities and dangers of mountaineering. Each of the main characters is dimensional and dynamic, and I never grew tired of following their individual character arcs. The actual structure of the different ar
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Nick
Apr 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Banner in the Sky is an adventure/survival fiction book about a boy on a journey to conquer the Citadel. The setting is a fictional town called Kurtal in the Swiss Alps. The main character is Rudi Matt who is a small and weak sixteen year old boy. Rudi’s dad was a famous mountaineer who died while climbing the Citadel. Rudi saves Captain Winter’s life when he is stuck in a glacier and finds out that Captain Winter also wants to climb the Citadel. Captain Winter and Emil Saxo (a mountain guide) s ...more
Joshua Massiah
Oct 13, 2014 rated it liked it
This story is about a kid named Rudi who wants to climb this large mountain called the Citadel that is close to his hometown. His father was killed on this same mountain yet he continues to try and conquer the mountain. After many failures he sets out on his journey to reach the top of the mountain. Many obstacles are faced while climbing setting Rudi back on trying to be the first person to reach the top of the mountain. After many trails and setbacks, Rudi sticks a flag with his fathers shirt ...more
Adam Buchanan
Jul 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
I was surprised that it was aimed at elementary school kids. The subject matter and language seemed more advanced than that. There was certainly an intensity to the writing, and I felt I was there climbing along with them.

I liked the very ending especially (where he had disappeared to go and take care of the dishes), for two reasons. One, that despite the times he had been disobedient and had lied to his mother and uncle and shirked his other duties, he had changed. This simple action proved ag
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Nicholai Vidanes
Oct 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book deserves to be a Newbery Honor book because it is truly inspiring. This is also encouraging since it is based on the author's personal experience. The words used were extremely powerful and effective, explaining every detail of each event. The book had a great plot were a sixteen year old boy named Rudi, the protagonist faces many challenges in his way to scale great summit of the Citadel completing the quest that claimed his father's life. If Banner in the Sky was a series, I would pr ...more
Jonny
May 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Middle-schoolers, particularly.
I thought the author of this book was limited because he was writing to a middle-school audience. And I was wrong, through all of his limitations, he is still able to tell a wonderful coming-of-age story. The characters are real (if not simple), the prose is dazzling (but not verbose), and the story is rich. It is satisfying in a way that even the most artistic and elaborate stories are not. The descriptions are wonderful; truly I felt the chill of the Alps, even in a Philadelphia May. It's beau ...more
Sheila
Mar 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Great book! This is a book that I would have never picked up to read, but it was in Elyssa home school curriculum. Once Elyssa and I got into the book (it did have a slow start) it was very hard to put down. It was also the type of book that I found myself thinking about when I was not reading the book, which I think is a sign of a good book. Elyssa and I found that we also discussed the book when we were not reading it. It also prompted me to do some research into this first expedition to climb ...more
Karin
Dec 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: kids, read-aloud
This one was part of a group of books on a world history reading list from Sonlight. I usually enjoy the books from that list, but this one just rubbed me wrong constantly. The protagonist was always waffling and not in any sense of nobility. A young boy left his mother and uncle and went off into the mountains alone. Selfishness abounds in this story. It was published in the 50s and the only female in the whole story is the boy's mother who is a very one dimensional character.
Liz
Jan 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: family-reads
This was a required summer reading for my sixth-grader and we both enjoyed it a lot for the adventure, the suspense , and the determination that the young boy showed. Created discussions about a person's values and family honor but also about not giving up on your passions and dreams because other people may be afraid to do it themselves.
Jessica
Dec 21, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2nd-quarter
I didn't like this book very much at all. This book was really boring for me it was like blah blah blah. It was about this boy named Rudi Matt. His father tried climbing the Citadel the most feared mountain in all of Kurtal. The best part of this book for me was the last two chapters.
Sherry (sethurner)
An inspiring story of courage, this YA novel tells of a teen who decides to climb the mountain his father died attempting to climb. The banner is his father's red shirt. There is a Disney movie that goes along with this book.
Natalie
Nov 01, 2010 rated it liked it
we had to read this for english and it was a pretty good book!
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James Ramsey Ullman (1907–1971) was an American writer and mountaineer. He was born in New York. He was not a high end climber, but his writing made him an honorary member of that circle. Some of his writing is noted for being "nationalistic," e.g., The White Tower.

The books he wrote were mostly about mountaineering.

His works include Banner in the Sky (which was filmed in Switzerland as Third Man
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“Youth is the time for dreams, boy...The trick is, when you get older, not to forget them.

—Captain John Winters”
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“It is the ultimate wisdom of the mountains that a man is never more a man than when he is striving for what is beyond his grasp. -James Ramsey Ullman” 6 likes
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