Tibet Through the Red Box Book Poster Image

Tibet Through the Red Box



The meandering, dreamy story may limit its appeal.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The Chinese portray the Tibetans as savages.


The author's father is missing for a long time.

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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that there is nothing of concern in this gorgeous, dreamy story.

Kids say

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What's the story?

Lost in the Himalayas, the author's father kept an illustrated diary of his survival in Tibet. Sis mixes excerpts from this diary with his own memories and artwork to cast a peculiarly Tibetan spell, one in which past and present, fiction and nonfiction, memory and dreams are all mixed together.


Is it any good?


An amazing confluence of history, memory, and the magic of dreams, this sophisticated picture book is based in reality, though it shoots off in several unexpected directions. He uses sketches from his father's diary and many more drawn directly from the younger Sis' imagination. Mandalas, mythical figures, Tibetan architecture and landscape, dreamscapes, decorative patterns, and scenes from the stories are woven together to form a book as colorful, rich, and complicated as a piece of Tibetan fabric. This is a work of literary, visual, and historical art unlike anything else ever published.

What little story there is just ends with the author's father reaching Potala and meeting the Dalai Lama. But this isn't meant to be a storybook -- it's a book of memories and dreams, rooted in reality but not clinging to it. It is really for older readers -- who may need to be encouraged to try it.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the author's approach to the story. He adds layers of his own experience as a child. Would you prefer a more straightforward telling of the story, or do you enjoy his blend of memory and imagination?

Book details

Author:Peter Sis
Illustrator:Peter Sis
Genre:Historical Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:January 1, 1998
Number of pages:55
Publisher's recommended age(s):9 - 12
Award:Caldecott Medal and Honors

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Parent of a 11 year old Written by1qaz2wsx November 17, 2009

good for tweens and older, iffy for young children

has a lot of information, but in one part in the beggining a group of workers fall of a mountain when it collapes, otherwise pretty good.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Educational value


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