Tibet: Through the Red Box

by Peter Sís

When Peter Sis was a child in Prague, his father, Vladimir, traveled to Tibet as... read more

When Peter Sis was a child in Prague, his father, Vladimir, traveled to Tibet as a documentary filmmaker and became stranded in that mysterious country. His family did not know what had happened to him, and for the boy Peter a sense of absence marked the time that followed. It is not clear how long it was until his father's return--was he gone for more than one Christmas, or did one Christmas without his presence make an indelible impression that shadows Sís's memories of other childhood holidays? In Tibet: Through the Red Box, Peter Sís weaves his own dreamlike memories into a book that also imagines the details of his father's experiences in Tibet during the time he was missing from young Peter's life. On a trek across Tibet in search of a means to return home, the father's journey as chronicled in a diary is no less dreamlike than the son's own memories as he experiences the extraordinary nature of that mystical place and travels toward the forbidden city of Lhasa ever more intent on warning the young Dalai Lama of the inevitable, tragic changes he senses the approaching Chinese will bring. The adult Peter Sís is both character in and creator of this unique artistic and literary journey that gracefully blurs the lines between fact and dream. Summoned by his father to his childhood home, Sís reads his father's diairies and is transported back to his own childhood and into his missing father's life, in the process finally filling the hole that the older man's absence had left during that time. The mystical quality of the narrative is echoed in the multilayered artwork, which is filled with details inspired by Tibetan culture and cast in deep, ever-changing hues. (Age 11 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 1998

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