Cover image for Far beyond the garden gate : Alexandra David-Neel's journey to Lhasa
Far beyond the garden gate : Alexandra David-Neel's journey to Lhasa
Brown, Don.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin Company, 2002.
Physical Description:
31 unnumbered pages ; 27 cm
Describes the life and travels of Alexandra David-Neel, who became a scholar of Buddhism and Tibet in the early twentieth century and trekked thousands of miles to reach Llasa, the Tibetan capital.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 5.4 0.5 67406.
Electronic Access:
Publisher description
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DS797.82.L45 D384 2002 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
DS797.82.L45 D384 2002 Juvenile Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
DS797.82.L45 D384 2002 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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In her time, Alexandra David-Neel was the most famous woman in France. She had traveled extensively in China and Tibet and, in 1924, was the first Western woman ever to enter Tibet's forbidden capital, Lhasa. Alexandra was a self-taught Buddhist scholar and spoke Tibetan flawlessly. And she did it all as a mature woman--she was in her mid-fifties when she arrived in Lhasa.
Not only is Alexandra David-Neel's story one of high adventure, of trekking through snow-choked mountain passes and wild encounters on the Tibetan tablelands, but it is also about a prolific writer and passionate advocate of Tibetan culture. Far Beyond the Garden Gate reveals an unforgettable life's journey with vibrant, graceful prose and stunning illustrations.

Author Notes

Don Brown is the award-winning author and illustrator of many picture book biographies. He has been widely praised for his resonant storytelling and his delicate watercolor paintings that evoke the excitement, humor, pain, and joy of lives lived with passion. School Library Journal has called him "a current pacesetter who has put the finishing touches on the standards for storyographies." He lives in New York with his family.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Reviewed with Barbara helen Berger's All the Way to Lhasa. 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

Like his Alice Ramsey's Grand Adventure and Ruth Law Thrills a Nation, Don Brown's Far Beyond the Garden Gate: Alexandra David-Neel's Journey to Lhasa charts another innovative woman in a concise picture-book biography. Here, the focus is Parisian-born Alexandra David-Neel's determination to enter the Tibetan capital. A spread of David-Neel crossing a gorge by cable illustrates the lengths to which she goes to become the first Western woman to enter Lhasa, in 1924. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 3-5-David-Neel was one of a small group of intrepid women who defied convention to become bold travelers in remote areas of the world. In fact, even as a child, she looked for adventure beyond the confines of her Victorian household. As an opera singer, she traveled to many far-off places, but she eventually married and settled down in Tunis. Her true adventures began in 1911 when, with her husband's blessings, she set out for Asia and was gone for 14 years. Those journeys are the focus of this picture book, which describes her wanderings and her eventual trek to Lhasa, a city never before visited by a European woman. Though the book starts abruptly, it tells a fascinating tale of a person willing to leave her comfortable world behind to pursue her interest in Buddhism, much of the time accompanied by a young servant whom she eventually adopted. David-Neel's vivid quotes are interspersed throughout the story. Although the author's note does not provide sources for them, the bibliography does list two of her books. The beiges, grays, and whites of Brown's palette capture the feeling of the unfamiliar world into which the woman and her companion ventured, but the rag-doll figures are less appealing. Little has been written about this intriguing woman for this audience, so this book will be a welcome addition to most collections.-Barbara Scotto, Michael Driscoll School, Brookline, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.