Tenzin’s Deer written by Barbara Soros and illustrated by Danuta Mayer.
Barbara Soros, a practitioner of Tibetan medicine for over twenty years, draws on her knowledge of Tibetan wisdom and myth to create Tenzin’s Deer, a picture book seeped in traditional Tibetan culture. A young boy named Tenzin is born beneath a shining comet. He is the holder of the collective wisdom of many generations. He is kind toward both people and animals (be they yaks, dogs or deer). When he discovers a musk deer wounded by an arrow, his innate compassion and empathy lead him to take the deer back to his home and try to heal it. He names the deer Jampa, “Loving Kindness”. While Tenzin sleeps, a dream shows him how to help Jampa get better. Jampa’s slow recovery also provides an inner journey for Tenzin, who must learn his most important lesson of all: how to let go of what he loves. This is a story from a culture most children know little about; a culture based on kindness and goodness and a belief in trusting one’s inner voice.
This gentle story has a message relevant for all religions and cultures, about generosity and the selflessness of true love. The illustrations are as mystical and sensitive as the story and subtly represent the love Tibetans have for all living creatures. It evokes a people and place that is, of course, in danger of being absorbed and lost.
“More than anything, Tenzin loved his deer. They slept together, ate together, listened to the wind together and spent many nights gazing at the changing moon over the vast mountains.”
Soros writes lyrically, but with quite a complex vocabulary and at length. This would be suited to 7-10 year olds.
I loved the jacket flap description of the illustrator. “Passionate about animal rights, Danuta has set up a refuge in her own home that currently houses seventeen dogs, three noisy parrots, and some two hundred smaller animals. Having tended numerous injured creatures and helped them on the road to recovery, Danuta easily identifies with the story of Tenzin’s Deer and understands the mixed sense of elation and loss felt when releasing a healed animal back into the wild.” When I read this I immediately wanted to check whom the publisher was, who had had the sensitivity to pick just this artist for this project. I wasn’t surprised to discover it was Barefoot Books, another press I appreciate.
# 92 in There’s a Book’s Read to Me Picture Book Challenge