Monday, December 28, 2009

Review: Pemba Sherpa

by Olga Cossi, illustrated by Gary Bernard. Odessey Books, 2009. (Review copy.) This gorgeously illustrated story tells of two Sherpa children, brother and sister, living in the shadow of the Himalayan mountains in Napal.  Pemba is a young boy who dreams of becoming a Sherpa guide to mountain climbers. His little sister Yang Ki want to be one as well, but at the start of the story Pemba is convinced that girls can't do the job.

Pemba goes off the collect fire wood for his school and Yang Ki tags along. He is angry and annoyed with her being a pest, as little sisters do. I really adore the stubborn, precious tension in Yang Ki's posture as she stands up to her brother. He soon finds out her slender shoulders are strong enough to do whatever it takes to keep them both alive. It only takes Pemba getting caught in a harrowing landslide and a dangerous rescue by his little sister Yank Ki for him to change his mind and  proudly profess,
"Girls were once thought to be too weak of fragile to work as porters and guides. But my little sister, with her enormous courage, changed that thinking.. Today, women are among the most famous Sherpas in the world. Yang Ki taught us that girls, even little girls, could be brave and strong, with a heart big enough to be Sherpa."

 Pemba Sherpa is dedicated to  "Pemba Doma Sherpa, the first Nepali woman to summit Mount Everest wia the North Face."

The vibrant watercolor painting depicting this stunning story are enchanting. I can almost feel the icy wind and smell the bracing snow sweeping the landscape. You will love sharing this story with the children in your life.

I can't help paring this story with Stones into Schools, Greg Mortenson's latest. Mortenson was a mountain climber attempting the highest peeks in the Himalayans when he got lost and was rescued by a Sherpa guide. He went on to fall in love with the people in the village where he recovered, and has spent the last 13 years raising money to build schools for children in Pakistan and Afghanistan. I was fortunate enough to hear him speak in person last winter and enjoyed reading his first book Three Cups of Tea. I purchased a couple copies of Stones into School to give as gift books this season, and am looking forward to reading my son's copy this week. It's a fascinating story and a winning strategy for bringing peace into the world.


Lone Star Ma said...

My stepdad gave me those books for Christmas.

Delphyne said...

This sounds like a wonderful book - thanks for the review!

Anonymous said...

What ages do you think would most enjoy this story?

Andromeda Jazmon said...

I would say 5 - 8 for Pemba Sherpa, but it largely depends on the child. I think kids in grades K - 2 would be interested in the mountain climbing, the struggle to accomplish difficult tasks as daily chores, the danger/rescue, the sibling rivalry, and the conflict between bro. and sis. over what girls can or can't do.

Stones into Schools is good for high school to adult.

Thanks for the encouraging comments! I haven't done many reviews lately and I was afraid no one was reading anymore. Great to see you all here!

GB said...


Thanks so much for the kind words for my illustrations. I can't say how I landed on your blog this time, but before the book came out I was looking to contact you and found your blog. I was very happy to see that you enjoyed it and took the time to review it.
I am in the Philadelphia and would love to get in touch at some point. Thanks again and happy New Year!

Andromeda Jazmon said...

Thanks Gary! I have to say it again; I really love the way Yang Ki is illustrated. Her stubborn set of the shoulders reminds me so much of my youngest son when he is standing up to his brother or me, trying to insist on getting his way. It's wonderful how well you have drawn her character in a few lines.

Playing by the book said...

Hi Andromeda,

So often when reading book blogs you see the same books reviewed again and again, so this post is particularly great - a wonderful sounding book (which I've added to my wishlist!) and one I hadn't heard of before. Thanks so much for the suggestion