Running on the Roof of the World

240p. Algonquin. May 2018. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781616208196.
Gr 5–8—In a small Tibetan village controlled by Chinese soldiers, Tashi-la (Tash) and her family must hide their Buddhist beliefs or risk imprisonment. A door-to-door search for dissidents ensues after a street protester sets himself on fire, and Tash's parents are frantic. They push her out a window with a backpack of important papers and tell her to run. Their fate in jeopardy, Tash is certain the Dalai Lama will help, but it is a dangerous journey across a mountain pass to India, where he rules in exile. Undeterred, Tash recruits her school friend, Sam, and borrows two yaks, Eve and Bones, to help carry gear and navigate deep snow. A neighbor cuts Tash's hair to disguise her as a boy for safety. Compounding the fear of being captured or robbed by unfriendly nomads is Tash's uncertainty about her parents' involvement in the resistance. Why are the flyers in the backpack so important? Is there a secret message? Can she trust Sam? At first, readers will wonder if the time period is current, as the culture in this isolated agricultural area exists with few vehicles and little connection to the outside world. Information about Tibet is appended, but many facts are integrated into the story regarding the Dalai Lama's teachings and his forced exile more than 50 years ago.
VERDICT The unique setting and Buddhist perspective adds depth to this page-turning adventure. A strong choice for middle grade collections.

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