A dog’s-eye view of life in Tibet and Mongolia.
Kelsang is a large, black Tibetan mastiff, sometimes mistaken for a bear. As a puppy, he loses his mother to a tragic encounter with a snow leopard. Soon after, his life becomes a series of adventures in which he plays the varied roles of sheepdog, guard dog, guide dog, rescue dog and loyal companion. As a result of his experiences with different owners, including being virtually stolen away and held in captivity, Kelsang ultimately bonds most deeply with the gentle Han Ma, who brings him along to his teaching jobs at both the School for Deaf and Blind Children and the Chinese Youth Volunteer Corps. Blackcrane, a winner of National Children’s Literature awards in China, captures Kelsang’s emotions and sensory experiences with candor and empathy. He also interprets much of Kelsang’s physical turmoil as an inner longing for compassionate, human leadership. Readers will get a whiff of life on the city streets of Lhasa, as well as in the grasslands of northern Tibet and Inner Mongolia. This is a tale that is beautifully translated, although the pacing is occasionally slow and plodding.
A heartfelt story for dog lovers in a setting rarely seen in the West. (Fiction. 10-14)