The Chiru of High Tibet: A True Story

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The true gripping story of how scientist George Schaller and four mountain men set out to save the chiru (antelope-like creatures who cannot survive captivity and who live on the high plains of Tibet) from near extinction.

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Overview

The true gripping story of how scientist George Schaller and four mountain men set out to save the chiru (antelope-like creatures who cannot survive captivity and who live on the high plains of Tibet) from near extinction.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In free verse as beautiful as the landscape she describes, Martin tells the ecological plight of the chiru, the tiny antelope-like creatures of the northern plains of Tibet....Wingerter's lush watercolor landscapes, infused with the pinks and blues of the Tibetan sky and occasionally embellished by mandala-like frames, allow the reader to slow down and savor this gentle tale. Unobtrusive text boxes insert important factual information without detracting from the poetic story. Inspiration for scientists and ecologists everywhere."—Kirkus, starred review

"With an urgent conservation message, this picture book about a threatened species is also a true adventure that will hold readers with its action and facts about science."—Booklist

"It's rare for a children's book to both shock and inspire, but Jacqueline Briggs Martin, author of the Caldecott Medal winner Snowflake Bentley, achieves both in her latest undertaking....Spare yet elegant."—BookPage

"Youngsters taken more by pilgrimage than by conservation will be drawn by the spiritual tone of the searchers' journeys, while animal lovers will appreciate the extent to which people will go to save the vulnerable."—The Bulletin

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Chiru are unique animals whose wool, called shahtoosh, "the king of wools," is "the warmest and the finest in the world." They live in Chang Tang, a bitterly cold area of Tibet. Every summer the females migrate to a secret place to give birth. When George B. Schaller learned about the chiru, he realized that he had to find that place and protect it from hunters, to keep the chiru from extinction. This is the dramatic, true, vividly and poetically told story of the incredibly difficult journey to discover the calving place, and then the effort to have the Chinese government protect it. Sidebars add further information. Double-page scenes are like spacious dioramas, with acrylic paints creating impressive mountain ranges and vast flatlands; each bathed in blues or violets, or amid snow-streaked yellow calving grounds. A decorative frontispiece in Tibetan style, a mystical concluding illustration, and decorative borders all suggest Tibetan art. There is a map, plus factual notes, photographs of the expedition, and a bibliography. There is also a reference to the Wildlife Conservation Society, to which contributions to help chiru can be sent. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 1–3—Chiru are small, antelope-type animals that live in the mountains of Tibet. Although their wool is prized for its warmth, super-softness, and strength, the animals cannot be sheared like sheep. Obtaining their expensive skins means killing them, a practice that has resulted in the herds becoming endangered. This book takes a potentially horrifying topic and turns it into a heroic adventure tale. George B. Schaller studied wildlife all over the world, but became particularly interested in Tibet. He knew the chiru needed protection and began a quest to find their hidden breeding grounds. In order to save them, he thought that their land should be protected from hunters. Although he was unable to find the right area, four other men took up the cause. Experienced mountain climbers, they set out on a 200-mile journey through rough terrain following the animals. Their success in discovering the calving grounds gave Schaller the information he needed to lobby the Chinese government to protect the area and give the chiru a chance to survive. This story is told in elegant yet conversational language. Set-off boxes provide important factual information without interrupting the artistic flow of the main text. The acrylic paintings and book design are devised for high effect. The opening pictures employ an icy blue palette, introducing the cold atmosphere of the Tibetan plain. Photographs of the treacherous terrain and the men involved in the project are appended.—Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA
Kirkus Reviews

In free verse as beautiful as the landscape she describes, Martin tells the ecological plight of the chiru, the tiny antelope-like creatures of the northern plains of Tibet. Once shawls made from the chiru's hair were created, these little creatures were slaughtered for their fine, soft wool, nearly to extinction. The perseverance of one wildlife biologist, many Tibetan volunteers and four trekkers with carts saved the chiru and brought the species's plight to the attention of the Chinese government. At times terrifying and suspenseful, the story focuses on the four men, their carts filled, who search through mud and cold and rough paths for 16 long days, until at last they are rewarded with the magnificent discovery: the chiru's hidden calving grounds, which can now be protected. Wingerter's lush watercolor landscapes, infused with the pinks and blues of the Tibetan sky and occasionally embellished by mandala-like frames, allow the reader to slow down and savor this gentle tale. Unobtrusive text boxes insert important factual information without detracting from the poetic story. Inspiration for scientists and ecologists everywhere. (author's note) (Informational picture book. 5-10)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618581306
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 9/27/2010
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD900L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.70 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Jacqueline Briggs Martin is the author of Snowflake Bentley, winner of the 1999 Caldecott Medal, and The Lamp, the Ice, and the Boat Called Fish, an ALA Notable Book, a Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book, Riverbank Review Finalist, Notable Social Studies Trade book and winner of The Golden Kite Award for Illustration. She grew up on a farm in Maine much like the one in this story. She lives in Mt. Vernon, Iowa.

Linda Wingerter, a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, grew up in a family of artists in rural Maine. She now lives in West Haven, Connecticut.

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