Tibet: Through the Red Box.
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Tibet: Through the Red Box.

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  460 ratings  ·  78 reviews
As a child in 1950s Czechoslovakia, Caldecott Honor-winning artist Peter Sís would listen to mysterious tales of Tibet, "the roof of the world." The narrator, oddly enough, was his father--a documentary filmmaker who had been separated from his crew, caught in a blizzard, and (according to him, anyway) nursed back to health by gentle Yetis. Young Sís learned of a beautiful...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published January 1st 1999 by See notes (first published 1998)
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this is an absolutely amazing book. i thought The Wall couldn't be topped, but this?

i suppose i'm a bit biased, having been to tibet myself, and reading it now, when china has the olympics and tibetan monks are dying. but really, i don't see how you can't love this book - both for the story (of a boy learning about his father and his father lost in tibet) and the illustrations, which are truly stunning. there are stories within stories here, and i desperately wanted to be able to read sis' fat...more
Red Box is a most personal book. Sis is writing about his father’s trip to Tibet when Peter was a young child. Within a red lacquered box, which sits upon his father’s desk, Sis discovers a diary of thin, old pages, filled with words, passages, and stories that would strain credibility. He finds the many bedtime stories his father had told him again and again – here, as a serious and first-time telling of real events.

Sis’ father was a documentary filmmaker, in now communist Czechoslovakia, and s...more
I just cannot understand how Peter Sis keeps getting Caldecotts. I don't like his illustrations, they aren't extraordinarily amazing or fantastic. Sometimes I even find them crude or grotesque. And his stories! I don't get his stories. I am most often confused, wondering why he can't just stop trying to be intellectually superior and just write the story. He brings in elements and then takes them out again, only to bring them back in at the end, like you are supposed to be impressed with his cle...more
This is an exquisite book. I suppose it is technichally a "children's book", but to me it transcends age. Through the lense of a young child Peter Sis tells the story of his father's trek through Tibet and the Himalayas as a documentary film maker; a position imposed upon him by the communist government of Czechoslovakia. The purpose of the trek was the filming of the first highway into Tibet as the Chinese began their intrusion of the country. Through Peter Sis' mystically beautiful artwork and...more
Oct 10, 2007 Timothy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the gifted unmotivated
My college girlfriend had thing for Tibet. What college girlfriend worth her weight in salt doesn't? Wandering through a Borders one boring, Pennsylvania night we stumbled into the children's section and she found this book.

I've never liked children's book, a fact I chalk up to being considerably younger than my siblings. At any rate, when I saw Sis's book, I thought "where was this when I was little?" I'd have love it. It's remarkably complex, both in its illustrations and text. It's a book wi...more
Like no picture book I've ever read before, this is incredibly complex. It seems to be part dream, part memory, and part memoir. It isn't really an appropriate picture book for a large group setting such as a read-aloud in a classroom or library storytime. It has very detailed pictures which need to be studied closely. In fact, I'm not sure how many children would actually be interested in reading this. It's more of a picture book for adults. Some of the illustrations are gorgeous with their col...more
Feb 19, 2013 Dolly rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents reading with their older children
Peter Sís has some very odd stories and this one is likely the strangest of them all. Oddly enough, it's a true story, a kind of homage to his father's travels. The narrative is entertaining, but somewhat tough to follow, especially with his characteristic placement of the text in odd shapes and designs. And the overall message of the story seems somewhat dark and confusing.

Still, the illustrations are wonderful and the story is enlightening, with the historical context of the conflict in Tibet...more
Years after he has grown up and left home, the author is summoned to his father's home and allowed access to a red box containing his notes and sketches about the period during which he was in Tibet. Although I won't pretend to understand every reference or story told here, I certainly was moved by many of the stories and could easily see how impactful the man's sojourn in Tibet must have been. Not only did he learn first-hand about a lifestyle, culture, and belief system different from his own,...more
Peter Sis is a gifted artist and a unique storyteller. This is a mystical story that provides a journey that will inspire the imagination, and it is relevant as geography and history for young readers.
I loved "The Wall", and "Starry Messenger". Therefore I was excited to see another one of Sis's books on the Caldecott list, this time as a 1999 Caldecott Honor winner. Every time I read one of his books, the illustrations just blow me away. They are so detailed you could literally spend hours just looking at them. This book is no exception.

In this book, we get a glimpse into the author/illustrator's childhood. Sis's father gets hired by the Chinese government to teach documentary filmmaking to...more
Published: 1998, Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Age: YA
Peter Sis was born Czechoslovakian and this is a book about his father’s experiences in Tibet. He was sent there in the 1950’s to film a documentary of the building of a road from China to Tibet in the Himalayas. He was there for a very long time and away from his family. He kept a diary of all the things he had seen. He kept it locked in a red box. Peter gets hurt and his father tells him “magical” stories of his experiences in Tibet while...more
Rodricucuz Vaughn

1. Graphic Novel

2. "Tibet Through the Red Box" is a story about a a boy who finds a red box with his father's dairy in it. To his surprise this dairy unlocks tales and adventures of his fathers journey as he was lost for 2 years in Tibet.

3. critique

a. list the area for comment (e.g., accuracy)This was a very interesting book . The novel takes the reader into a world of adventure , mystery ,magic , and intrigue. Each chapter unfolds as the mystery of his father's travels go on.

b. The book wa...more
This book offers up a lot to grapple with at content, visual, dreamlike and conceptual levels. It is beautiful and complex, centered on a diary kept by Sis's father during his extended (and enforced) time as a documentary filmmaker in Tibet when the Chinese were building a road to Tibet. The diary was later stored in a red box from which the book gets its title. Sis stretches his use of text to combine typeface for the narrative with handwritten journal entries, small text in the left and right...more
Cynthia Larson
Tibet Through the Red Box is one of the best illustrated books I've ever read. Much more than a children's book, this tale tells the intimate story of a young Czech man sharing excerpts from his father's diary. The father was invited by the Chinese to film the construction of a highway in the highest, most remote mountain ranges in the world, and while filming this project, was separated from his group. What happens next is the stuff of magic and legends... yet all purportedly true. A letter fro...more
David Christian
"The Red Box is Now Yours."

This book is an artistic masterpiece and probably one of the best illustrated works I have ever read. Disguised as a children's book, Tibet: Through the Red Box is a spiritual and emotional moving tale of a man lost in Tibet, a clash of cultures, and the fantastic dreaming of one small boy sick in bed who awaits the return of his Father.

The striking thing about this book is the use of color. As the boy wanders through his Father's empty study, the colors on the writing...more
This is a somewhat interesting book. The illustrations are unique and laid out creatively. However, there are lots of words and the story can become very long. I would suggest only reading this to older students.
Sharne' Cherry
1. Graphical Novel
2. This is a story about a a boy who finds a red box with his father's dairy in it. The journal contains information and stories about his father being lost in Tibet for 2 years. Wonderful book.
3.a Art
b. The full color paintings appeal to the mysteriousness of this book. The artwork makes this book very appealing and interesting.
c.Color is important here. As Sis moves from page to page,from story to story, in his father’s diary, he describes the study in which he sits as becomi...more
Jul 12, 2010 Bonnie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: art lovers, Harry
Recommended to Bonnie by: Moi!
Warm fictional book based on the true story of the author's Czech (Czechlaslovakian at the time) father who heads to China to film a documentary on the making of the highest bridge in the world and after troubles at the bridge heads on to Tibet to warn the Dalai Lama about the impending bridge and the arrival of unfriendlies. His father is not able to return to his country for a while but reader hopes that father will return to take up where he left off with, of an affectionate father-son relati...more
the art was beautiful but sis' need to hypothesize about what truly happened and his doubt of his own memories took away from the heart of the story
Amy Bailey
Wow! Great book for young readers, but only for older young readers, such as those in the teen and young adult categories. A very sweeping narrative about a young boy's discovery and journey through the memories of his father's travels in Tibet. All I could think of while reading and looking at the illustrations is, "This must have taken him FOREVER!!!" The art work was amazingly intricate, and I could probably read it a thousand times and notice more that I had skipped over the previous time. V...more
Mrs. Downs
GR Level: ?


WOW! This illustrations in this book are beautiful. I couldn't decide what genre this book should fit under. It is taken from the author's father's journal of his time being lost in Tibet- so technically it should be non-fiction/autobiography. However, the tales that take place are what we would imagine to be fictitious. So that is why I'm not positive as to what I would put it under. The public library has it in the history and geography section of the non-fiction portio...more
Jul 21, 2008 treehugger rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Cherie, Karen
Recommended to treehugger by: furies
Shelves: art, spiritual, travel
This book was really interesting, and it pretty much defies fitting into any sort of genre. The illustrations are incredible, and the story is really gripping - it's a boy reading through his father's diary from when his father was a filmmaker hired to film the building of the Himalayan highway into Tibet.

A pretty amazing way to spend 30 minutes - recommended reading for anyone interested in Tibet, the history thereof (such as the legend of the Yeti), and the beginning of the exile of the Dalai...more
This book was definitely much more intellectual than most picture books, and even a tad confusing at times. But for some strange reason, it worked. I felt like it was so profound, that you need to read it multiple times to begin to grasp all of the small, symbolic moments you missed the first time around. The illustrations were also gorgeous.

I know Peter Sis is an artist and that's why he keeps making picture books, but his stories are so fascinating that I really think they'd almost be better...more
This story tells of a man recalling from his youth his father's tales of Tibet. With the help of his father's diary the man reconstructs mystical happenings of the past. Of the many children's literature pieces I have read this semester this book has left the deepest impression upon my mind. The story is unique and thoroughly entertaining. The illustrations which accompany the text of each page is intricate and captivating. I highly recommend this picture book, not just as a children's book, but...more
WOW! This illustrations in this book are beautiful. I couldn't decide what genre this book should fit under. It is taken from the author's father's journal of his time being lost in Tibet- so technically it should be non-fiction/autobiography. However, the tales that take place are what we would imagine to be fictitious. So that is why I'm not positive as to what I would put it under. The public library has it in the history and geography section of the non-fiction portion of the library. Very i...more
Jenn Henderson
Peter Sis is an incredible author/illustrator. This book is a memoir of his father's trip to China. He gets separated from his group and ends up in Tibet. Sis includes snipets from his father's diary, retells stories his father told him, and includes some research to make this a well rounded, rich reading experiences. His illustrations add a layer of complexity, so teachers can introduce this book to students with various reading abilities, and they can talk about the book on different levels.
Hester Thorpe
I loved this book. Loved loved *loved* this book. It was fantastic and moving and just so elegantly executed. It actually took me well over an hour to read it because it's so detailed and lovely. Every page is a whole work of art. Reading this book made me feel I was walking through a museum of one work of art after another that was just beautiful and incredible and that the artist was clearly pouring their whole soul into. I would pick it up again in a hot minute...definitely amazing.
Tried reading this with my daughter (9) who couldn't get into it. Finished it on my own; a better target may be young teens. In the book, the author tells a story of his father's diary, recorded while lost in Tibet. These events are connected to stories told to the author while sick in bed, and both events and stories have a dreamlike quality. Color is used to separate the stories and the illustrations as well, and the final pictures have many glorious colors.
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PETER SÍS is an internationally acclaimed illustrator, filmmaker, painter and author. Born in 1949 in Brno, Czechoslovakia, and grew up in Prague. He studied painting and filmmaking at the Academy of Applied Arts in Prague and the Royal College of Art in London. His animated work is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art. He came to America in 1982, and now lives in New York’s Hud...more
More about Peter Sís...
The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain The Conference of the Birds Madlenka Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei The Tree of Life: Charles Darwin

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