The cover of Zangbu’s Story, by Ang Zangbu Sherpa with Diane Scott, shows young Zangbu, a Sherpa boy, gazing at an airplane. Piloting a plane is to become his dream, but to achieve that he has to endure hardships few of us can imagine, and he needs to go to school.
The book describes this true journey. The illustrations by Malcolm Wells alone make it a classic.
His first school is a Sherpa school near Lukla, six hours from his home. It is expected that in two years he is to become the one in the family to learn to read and write, to hold important posts in the village, and to understand land deeds often used to steal land from illiterate Sherpas.
But it is not easy. He has no support at home, no mentor. He must work beforre and after school:
He struggles not because he is lazy, but because he is working so hard-at pulling weeds and hauling manure in the fields. From the moment it is light until the school bell rings, then from the time he gets out of school until dark–work. But not schoolwork. That must be done, if it is done at all, by the dim light in his cousin’s single open room, where a place by the fire is assigned by age.
Zangbu’s story is not about violent struggles with wolves, or imagined struggles with yetis, though there is some of that. It’s about growing up with hunger, hard work, and abuse rather than with toys and creature comforts. It’s about perseverance and the ability to learn from difficulty, not to become discouraged. It’s also a richly detailed account of the educational challenges for children in mountain villages in Nepal.
Although written for children, Zangbu’s Story is a book that could inspire and teach any adult as well.