Cover image for All the way to Lhasa : a tale from Tibet
All the way to Lhasa : a tale from Tibet
Berger, Barbara Helen, 1945-
Publication Information:
New York : Philomel Books, [2002]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 28 cm
A boy and his yak persevere along the difficult way to the holy city of Lhasa and succeed where others fail.
General Note:
Based on a story told to the author by Lama Tharchin Rinpoche.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 2.4 0.5 58822.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PZ8.1.B4163 AL 2002 Juvenile Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PZ8.1.B4163 AL 2002 Juvenile Non-Fiction Fairy Tales
PZ8.1.B4163 AL 2002 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Known for her luminescent Grandfather Twilight, Barbara Helen Berger brings beauty and power to this memorable parable from Tibet. A young boy and his yak bravely overcome all odds to get to Lhasa, giving a wise and simple message that will inspire children of any age to dream and reach for a shining goal that may seem "very far."

Author Notes

Barbara Helen Berger lives on Bainbridge Island, Washington.
Barbara Helen Berger lives on Bainbridge Island, Washington.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Reviewed with Don Brown's Far beyond the Garden Gate. PreS-Gr. 2. Here are two titles that combine inspiring stories of dreams and challenges with attractive introductions to Tibet's culture and religion for the very young. Using very different approaches, these two beautifully illustrated books center around journeys to the Tibetan holy city of Lhasa. Bergerdistills the pilgrim's quest into a simply told, evocative tale, reminiscent of The Tortoise and the Hare, with a familiar message. Basic, rhythmic language describes two young men on their way to Lhasa. The first boy speeds across the difficult terrain on horseback; the second walks slowly, leading a yak, "one foot in front of the other." It's the careful, slower pilgrim who makes it to the holy city. Berger's paint-and-pencil illustrations are gloriously colored and filled with subtle details borrowed from Tibetan Buddhism: horn players, ceremonial chimes, and lotus blossoms, all flowing from rolling pink and gold clouds. An author's note gives some background on Lhasa and points to the story's universal theme. Far beyond the Garden Gateexpands the pilgrim's story in a fascinating picture-book biography of adventurer and Buddhist scholar Alexandra David-Neel--the first Western woman, in 1924, to enter Lhasa. As in his previous biographies, such as Uncommon Traveler (2000), Brown combines succinct language, dramatic storytelling, and beautiful, spare watercolor art to describe his subject's remarkable life. Quotes from David-Neel's own writings are woven into the text, which follows David-Neel from childhood to her death at the age of 101. But the book focuses mostly on her Buddhist studies and on her perilous, groundbreaking journey to Lhasa. Neither the story nor the concluding author's note mentions how the intensely private monks received David-Neel in their sacred city, which would have added an interesting angle, but Brown perfectly balances his atmospheric words and pictures in an exciting account. Gillian Engberg.

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this retelling of a Tibetan parable, Berger (Grandfather Twilight) features two people on their way to the holy city of Lhasa. An old woman sitting alongside the road to Lhasa (dressed in burgundy and yellow, the holy colors) tells an impatient man on a speedy horse who asks how far it is to Lhasa, "Very far.... You'll never make it there before night." Meanwhile, in answer to the same question from a boy leading his "steady yak," the woman replies, "Very far... but you can make it there before night." Berger's mural-like, full-spread paintings, bordered in deep burgundy, chronicle the boy's treacherous mountain journey as he navigates switchbacks, coaxes his reluctant yak across a flimsy rope bridge and braves a blizzard. (He also passes fluttering prayer flags, mantra-carved stones and spired shrines, which, an afterword notes, simulate actual landmarks that Tibetans would encounter on the pilgrimage.) The wise woman has recognized in the boy a determination simply to keep putting "one foot in front of the other" (the book's refrain) and, sure enough, he is rewarded with a safe and timely arrival at the magnificent city (he passes the "fallen horse and rider" on his way). Placing her realistically rendered hero in a lyrically stylized landscape a world where clouds and waves curl like tendrils (often spilling beyond the paintings' borders), and magical figures materialize in the mountain air Berger subtly underscores both the mysticism of the journey and the universality of its down-to-earth, slow-and-steady-wins-the-race moral. Ages 4-8. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 4-The story here is a simple one, inspired by a Tibetan parable. An old woman sitting by the roadside is approached by a galloping horse and rider and asked, "How far is it to Lhasa?" The woman replies that he will never make it before nightfall. She is next approached by a young boy, slowly but persistently plodding along on foot with his yak. He poses the same question, but is told that he will be able to reach the holy city before dark. Predictably, the boy's stolid determination helps him reach his goal, passing the exhausted horse and rider who have frittered away their energy along the way. The tale is reminiscent of Uri Shulevitz's The Treasure (Farrar, 1979), not so much in terms of its message as in its ability to deliver a pearl of wisdom with grace and simplicity. Berger's illustrations, done in acrylic, colored pencil, and gouache, sweep across spreads and are laced with numerous symbols from Tibetan art and culture, all of which are explained in an extensive author's note. On her Web site, the author states: "A picture book is a journey for eye and ear, heart and mind." Berger's readers take such a journey here, and it is well worth the trip.-Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.