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(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Tibet: Through the Red Box is a biographical storybook for all ages. The simultaneous narration from the father, through his hand-written diary from years ago, and the adult son’s memories of the adventures his father told him of, make this a multilayered story. The book is divided into three sections that explore Tibetan legend: the tale of the Jingle Bell Boy, the Valley of the Gentle Giants, and the Bluest Lake. These legends correspond to colors—respectively, red for fire, green for earth, blue for water—that are repeated throughout the book. Complementing this unique story are beautiful color illustrations of Tibetan symbols, maps, and drawings from the father’s diary, and memories from the adult son’s past.

Tibet: Through the Red Box begins when Peter Sis is called home to be given the mysterious red box within which his father’s Tibetan adventures are kept. On the surface it is the tale of a Czechoslovakian filmmaker who is drafted by the communist government to teach filmmaking to the Chinese army. He and his crew are sent to the Himalayas to document the construction of a road that is to open Tibet to China. During the filming, a landslide separates the crew from the Western world. Through his search for a way home, the father learns of the Tibetan culture and way of life and realizes that the completion of the road “might take more than it brings.” He decides to journey to the forbidden city of Lhasa and warn the Dalai Lama child of the dangers posed by the approaching communist army.