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From The Asian Reporter, V15, #18 (May 3, 2005), page 16.
Inspiration from "The Rooftop of the World"
Tibetan Tales for Little Buddhas
By Naomi C. Rose
Clear Light Publishing, 2004
Hardcover, 64 pages, $16.95
By Josephine Bridges
Everyone wants to be happy and to overcome whatever problems they meet in their lives," writes His Holiness the Dalai Lama in his foreword to Naomi Rose’s retelling of three tales once told in Tibet. Yeshi, Jomo, and Chunda, young heroes of the three stories, all have unusual problems to overcome in their search for happiness — there’s a wounded yeti, for example — that readers might not encounter outside "The Land of Snows, Rooftop of the World, Land of Rainbows" (names for Tibet we also learn here). Nonetheless, children all over the world can learn strategies for overcoming their own, perhaps not quite so exotic, problems from Tibetan Tales for Little Buddhas.
When Yeshi’s horse runs away in "Yeshi’s Luck," the boy can’t understand why his father responds to this terrible turn of events by asking, "Who can say what’s good fortune and bad?" When the horse returns with another horse, Yeshi begins to get his father’s point, but there are still some surprises in store for him.
Jomo’s crabby aunt is always criticizing her niece’s housework. Jomo drops a hint for the reader when she confides to her yaks that she’s afraid of her aunt, who is "always yelling — ever since Mama and Papa died." In a cave in a high mountain pasture, Jomo sees something else that frightens her, but this creature asks her — in rhyming couplets — to face her fear and look beyond external appearances. Be on the lookout for a shocking illustration in "Jomo and the Dakini Queen."
"Chunda’s Wisdom Quest" is the story of a young monk in search of a mystical land. "How will I know when I get there?" he asks. "Just pay attention," says the oldest monk. Hoping to get there fast, Chunda begins his quest by racing to the bottom of a hill and hurting his ankle in a fall. As he waits for his ankle to heal, Chunda discovers that he has a yeti for a neighbor, and not just any yeti, but "the kind that eats humans." But when he doesn’t see the yeti one day, and goes to see if something is wrong, Chunda learns that the object of his quest may not be so far away after all.
Tibetan Tales for Little Buddhas is written in both English and Tibetan. Even if readers don’t know any Tibetan, the language is a joy to look at, as are the author’s paintings. Naomi C. Rose’s yaks and her use of the color blue are positively transcendent.
In her "Special Thanks" section at the end of the book, the author expresses her gratitude not only to the Dalai Lama, but to all "the Tibetan people whose dignity in the face of cultural tragedy continues to inspire me."
Tibetan Tales for Little Buddhas is also an inspiration.