HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Rebel: A Tibetan Odyssey
Author: Cheryl Aylward Whitesel
Jacket Illustrator: Michael Hays
Publisher: Republished independently, 2017
ISBN-13: 978-0688167356 Hardcover
ISBN-10: 0688167357 Hardcover
ISBN-13: 978-1521315767 Paperback
ISBN-10: 1521315760 Paperback
Website(s): http://www.harperchildrens.com (publisher)
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 10 and up
Rating: ***** 5 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Category: Historical fiction
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Whitesel, Cheryl Aylward. Rebel: A Tibetan Odyssey (Published in 2000 by HarperCollins Children’s Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, 1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York City, NY 10019). It is around 1900, and fourteen year old Dorje, nicknamed Thunder, lives with his parents, older sister Dolma, seven year old younger brother Joker, baby brother Razim, and second uncleTendruk, in the Tibetan village of Chu Lungba. In the closed society of turn-of-the-century Tibet, the outside world is a threatening place. but not to Thunder. Ever rebellious, he longs to become a trader and visit faraway places. However, he has forbidden contact with a foreign explorer, is banished from his village, and is forced to join a monastery to lead a quiet life of study and meditation under the tutelage of his first uncle Gyalo, a high-ranking monk.
At the monastery, though, life is anything but quiet. Thunder has to stand up to Zang-po, his uncle’s resentful servant, and defend himself against Pounder, the menacing soldier who endangers his life. Can Thunder find peace at the monastery? Or does he rebel against the life set out for him? And will he ever be able to return home? Author Cheryl Aylward Whitesel integrates descriptions of the food, trading system, and customs of the time, and includes a glossary of Tibetan words, so that the reader not only finds that the book is it filled with adventure and excitement, but also learns a lot about Tibetan culture. Of course, the beliefs and practices mentioned are Buddhist. Some childish slang is used (e.g., one character is called a turd), but this book is a good story to read out loud.