The Chiru of High Tibet, by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
This book is another example of why I love reading children's books. The Chiru of High Tibet by Jaqueline Briggs Martin, illustrated by Linda Wingerter, introduced me to an animal I knew nothing about--the chiru. Chiru are unique animals resembling antelopes, but related to wild goats and sheep. Their wool is special also and is considered to be the finest in the world. It is called shahtoosh, the king of wools. In order for this wool to be used, the animal has to be killed.
A man named George B. Schaller was very worried about the chiru and its existence. He was afraid that if something was not done to protect them, they would become extinct. So Schaller decided to do something. He wanted to protect the chiru from the hunters. In order to do that, he had to find the secret place where the female chirus gave birth. After several attempts to locate this elusive spot failed, four mountain climbers offered to help Schaller.
They set out on the journey with no trucks and no camels or donkeys that would need feeding. They pulled their supplies in wheeled carts across the plains of Tibet. When you read this book you will find out how their journey went and how the chiru situation was resolved.
Not only did this book introduce me to the plight of an animal with which I was unfamiliar, it also provided beautifully evocative illustrations. The illustrator, Linda Wingerter, successfully captured the majesty and awe of the Tibetan plains and mountains. Her subtle tones lend an air of strength and majesty to a captivating story. The photographs and information at the end of the book also add to the story of the chiru. There, the reader can meet the real animals and the real trekkers.
As I said earlier, this is yet another example of why I love children's literature so much. I am constantly discovering new topics, wonderful writing, and beautiful illustrations. It just goes to show that you are never too old to read a picture book.