Picture Book: The Chiru of High Tibet: A True Story
Author: Jacqueline Briggs Martin
Illustrator: Linda Wingerter
Summary: Chiru, animals that look like small antelope, are found only in the northern part of Tibet, a very cold region called Chang Tang. Having the softest, warmest wool on Earth, these animals are sought. Unlike sheep, they must be killed if their wool is taken. For these reasons, chiru have been victims of poachers and are endangered species. This is the story of George B. Schaller, a conservationist who was determined to protect the chiru. After failing several times himself in the 1990s, he recruited 4 mountain climbers to follow the chiru 200 miles to find their secret calving grounds. This was necessary so that Schaller could lobby the Chinese government to protect the chiru. Although a very difficult journey, the 4 men were successful, resulting in a large protected area being set aside for the chiru to thrive, The Chang Tang Reserve.
Hanna’s Comments: This beautiful story is told in a compelling narrative and illustrative windows with interesting facts. This is a modern adventure story with 5 heroes, the scientist and the 4 mountain climbers. It is a story of determination and perseverance in a harsh climate for a small, meek animal species. I suspect many faith traditions want to encourage these kinds of selfless, protective acts for our most vulnerable animals who, like us, were created by God for a divine purpose. Photographs of the men and some chiru are at the end.
Publisher & Date of Publication: Houghton Mifflin, 2010
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
# of Pages: 40
Available in Spanish? Not at present
Formats other than Book: Tablet, There is a great short video on Youtube.com of the author talking about her visit to the Chang Tang Reserve in Tibet. It includes some photographs of the Chiru.
PBT Category: Non Fiction, Post 2K
PBT Topics this Book Connects with: action, adventure, animals, Asia, aspirations/dreams, attentiveness/observation/seeing, bravery/courage, care of creation, challenges, commitment, creation, cruelty, danger, Earth/world, the environment/nature, exploration, faith/faithfulness, found, gifts/giftedness/talents, heroes, hiding/isolation, intercession, journeys/pilgrimages/migrations/quests, labor/work, mystery, non-violence/peaceful resistance, obstacles, partners/teamwork, passion, patience, perseverance, poaching/stealing/theft, power, protecting/protection, reverence, risking, sacrifice, savior/saving, searching, secrets, servant hood/service/service, shyness, sin, steadfastness, survival, unity, vision, wilderness
Scripture Connections: God made the wild animals of the Earth of every kind… and God saw that it was good (Genesis 1:25); let everything that has breath praise the Lord (Psalm 150:6)
Idea(s) for Application: Use this book with teens when talking about their God-given vocations. Emphasize that one of these heroes was particularly strong in mind and the other 4 were strong in body. Together they saved a vulnerable species and blessed the world.