Picture Book as Personal Journey: A Kristevan Reading of Peter Sís's Tibet: Through the Red Box --Aparna Gollapudi Tibet: Through the Red Box is about a boy's anguish at his father's unexplained disappearance and his attempt as a grown man not only to accept, but also to celebrate that traumatic absence, which became an extraordinary journey full of magical adventures. The bereft son coping with the absence of his father is a key thematic, structural, and psychological motif in narratives as diverse as The Odyssey, The Secret Garden, and The Glass Menagerie. But Peter Sís brings a special poignancy to the peculiar combination of angst and adoration, competition and identification, that marks such father-son relationships. Through shifting text-image interactions in this semiautobiographical picture book, Sís captures the process of growing up--not only from child to adult, but also, specifically, from boy to man--by overcoming the trauma of paternal absence. What gives Tibet its unusual depth, however, is that, even as it tells this tale of love and healing, it seems to interrogate whether a complete and unequivocal triumph over past trauma is possible. Though Sís says about Tibet that "One part of the story is what I knew
Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures – University of Winnipeg
Published: May 20, 2010
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