Top of the World

story by Simon Cooke , illustrated by Sarah Davis

Learning intentions:

I am learning to respond to and compose a range of texts that express other viewpoints of the world and use this to justify my own personal opinions and goals.


Success criteria:

  • I can recognise the way a character can find the strength and willpower to tackle their own challenges by taking inspiration from someone else’s accomplishments
  • I can consider and discuss how this way of thinking can also apply to me
  • I can research a person I find inspirational and write about the way this helps me focus on achieving my own goals


Essential knowledge:

Information about applying our own perspective to a text can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Perspective.


Prior to reading the story, watch the video Sir Edmund Hillary and have a brief discussion about the expedition to the summit of Mount Everest depicted in the video.

Read the text Top of the World. Ask students why they think Luca feels that riding to the top of Gum Tree Hill is his own version of climbing Mount Everest. Answers may include:

  • It is extremely high and steep
  • It will take a lot of effort, energy and willpower
  • He doesn’t know if he’ll be able to achieve it
  • It is a huge personal challenge

Ask students for textual evidence that shows that Luca uses Sir Edmund Hilary as inspiration and motivation to keep going in his challenge to conquer Gum Tree Hill. Answers should include:

  • So here I am, at the bottom of the hill, like Sir Edmund Hillary at the bottom of Mount Everest.
  • I think about Sir Edmund Hillary: how he climbed up Mount Everest; how the mountain just went up and up, but he kept on going. He’s my hero. He loved to push himself to the limit, to test his endurance to the max. Just like me.
  • ‘Top of the world, top of the world …’ I say it over and over. It helps focus my mind.
  • It’s still a long way to the top, not in altitude but in attitude.
  • It’s tempting to give up and coast back down. But what if Sir Ed has stopped climbing Everest? What if he’d built a snowman instead?
  • In my imagination, Sir Ed appears ahead of me. He beckons for me to follow. If he can do it, so can I.
  • Sir Ed waits for me to reach him; then he says, ‘Come on, Luca, let’s see the top of the world!’
  • I can see him … hear him, but best of all I can feel his passion for conquering challenges. That passion’s in me too, always driving me.
  • I know one day I’ll make it to the top of another mountain and stand in the same place that Sir Ed stood, back in 1953.


Discuss with students how we are often inspired by others in life. Ask students to think, pair and share about someone who has inspired them or somebody they look up to. Select a few students to share their answers with the class.

Inform students they are going to write about something that they have achieved or would like to achieve and how they can look to the accomplishments of others for motivation, just like Luca did when he made it to the top of Gum Tree Hill.

This may be something like taking inspiration from their favourite Olympic runner when they were competing in the school athletics carnival, or a social justice activist when they were preparing their class speech on an issue, they are passionate about.

Some suggestions of well-known inspirational figures may include Cathy Freeman, Jessica Watson, Dylan Alcott or Malala Yousafzai.  If possible, allow students to explore the library’s biography section (Dewey Decimal number 921) or make online resources available, such as Little People, Big Dreams.

Once students have decided on the person, they take inspiration from, they should write a paragraph explaining who the person is, what accomplishments they are known for and how this inspires the student in their own goals. Students may then wish to publish their writing with an illustration and prepare it for display in the classroom.