Tenzin’s Deer – Book Review

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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

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14 Responses to Tenzin’s Deer – Book Review

  1. Joanna, you always seem to post on subjects that are close to my heart. My new novel features a relationship between a deer and a girl as a subplot. I will definitely order this book (I’m re-reading The Yearling, too.)

    • Joanna says:

      Wow, would love to know more about your novel, Gail :).. Had to check out the Yearling on Amazon and, nope, I haven’t read it but have just put it on my TBR list. Thank you.

  2. Joanna – What a great book review! I am going to order this book. Thanks for the recommendation.

  3. I’m definitely going to have to pick this one up. Sounds lovely. And I LOVE Barefoot Books – we have loads already.

  4. Patricia Tilton says:

    I really liked this story. Have always had an interest in Tibet and its customs. Sounds like the author did a lovely job of weaving nature and culture together. And golly, this story reminds me of wonderful story written about a boy and an animal in another culture. Don’t jump ship! These stories are important to tell! 🙂


    • Joanna says:

      The nearest I have been to Tibet is peering down upon the “country” from a remote Western province of China! It also holds a fascination for me. I think the author’s twenty year immersion in the culture gives her a more than valid platform to tell such a story!

  5. LOL, loved Pat’s comment..”don’t jump ship…” It is indeed a lovely review of a sweet endering story. Must check this one out. Thankyou very much Joanna.

  6. Joanna says:

    I really enjoy the philosophical side of this picture book, Diane.

  7. Susanna says:

    This story sounds wonderful. Thanks for sharing. I’m interested in hearing about Gail’s novel too 🙂

  8. Joanna says:

    I think we are just going to have to follow Gail closely 😉

  9. Lori D says:

    I’ll look for it! 🙂

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