One morning, Tenzin woke up to find that his older brother, Pasang, had returned to their home in Tibet. He had been gone for five long years, having run away from the monastery where he had been studying to become a monk. Tenzin was beside himself with excitement, but he was quickly hushed by their mother. Pasang could get into a lot of trouble for leaving in the first place, since the Chinese, who controlled Tibet, wouldn’t be happy someone had gotten out. In a small village though, it’s hard to keep anything a secret and that night when Tenzin got home from school, the Chinese police were already there, giving Pasang a hard time.
Pasang said that he wasn’t going to leave and for a time, Tenzin believed him. But then, he saw his mother talking with Pasang late into the night and he began to realize that all was not well. One day on his way to school, Pasang and their mother insist that he ride the family donkey cart to school – which he never did. At that point, Pasang told him that he has been chosen to leave Tibet with Pasang and go to India for a better future and more opportunities. At first Tenzin was excited but then the realities of the huge undertaking quickly took over. Would he ever see his other two brothers again? Would he ever see his mother?
Pasang and Tenzin, who was only eleven at the time of their journey, had to overcome huge obstacles, including running out of money and food, as well as being captured by the Chinese police and beaten. Most daunting was when they realized in order to get out of Tibet they must cross the Death Pass – the highest mountain pass in the world, without the proper clothes, equipment or food.
Escape from Tibet by Nick Gray and Laura Scandiffio details the story of these two brothers as they strive to make it out of Tibet and into the new world of India. Told from Tenzin’s perspective, this story gives readers a clearer understanding of the desperation others around the world feel to be free.
Recommended for grades 6th and up.