cover image ALL THE WAY TO LHASA: A Tale from Tibet

ALL THE WAY TO LHASA: A Tale from Tibet

Barbara Helen Berger, . . Philomel, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-23387-6

In this retelling of a Tibetan parable, Berger (Grandfather Twilight) features two people on their way to the holy city of Lhasa. An old woman sitting alongside the road to Lhasa (dressed in burgundy and yellow, the holy colors) tells an impatient man on a speedy horse who asks how far it is to Lhasa, "Very far.... You'll never make it there before night." Meanwhile, in answer to the same question from a boy leading his "steady yak," the woman replies, "Very far... but you can make it there before night." Berger's mural-like, full-spread paintings, bordered in deep burgundy, chronicle the boy's treacherous mountain journey as he navigates switchbacks, coaxes his reluctant yak across a flimsy rope bridge and braves a blizzard. (He also passes fluttering prayer flags, mantra-carved stones and spired shrines, which, an afterword notes, simulate actual landmarks that Tibetans would encounter on the pilgrimage.) The wise woman has recognized in the boy a determination simply to keep putting "one foot in front of the other" (the book's refrain)—and, sure enough, he is rewarded with a safe and timely arrival at the magnificent city (he passes the "fallen horse and rider" on his way). Placing her realistically rendered hero in a lyrically stylized landscape—a world where clouds and waves curl like tendrils (often spilling beyond the paintings' borders), and magical figures materialize in the mountain air—Berger subtly underscores both the mysticism of the journey and the universality of its down-to-earth, slow-and-steady-wins-the-race moral. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)