A young monk and his friends in Arunachal Pradesh are faced with a sudden challenge: the home of their beloved black-necked crane is in danger. Can they act quickly to solve this problem? What follows is an action-packed twenty-four hours, navigating both mountains and moral dilemmas, to stand up for a cause.


  • Saving the Dalai Lama’s Cranes is about three friends—Tenzin, Pema, and Tara—who find out about a plan to build a dam in Arunachal Pradesh, despite a report that has been submitted to the government that says that the dam will harm the area’s biodiversity. In a bid to protect the land and save the endangered black-necked cranes, the friends steal the original report and release it to the press. Saving the Dalai Lama’s Cranes is an adventure story with a focus on the environment. For readers from urban backgrounds, it is an important reminder of the value of our natural biodiversity and the need to preserve it.
  • The book is very informative. Not only do we learn about the environmental and institutional issues around large dam projects, we also get to know about the local culture in Arunachal Pradesh (in particular, of the Monpa people)—their language, cultural symbols, and religious beliefs. The question of how large dams are planned and approved is also dealt with in some depth in a section at the end of the book. The language in which this information is given is straightforward and easy to understand, although some details are a little too specific, and may strike some readers as boring.
  • The story is well suited to a readership that is transitioning from picture books to chapter books. Its middling length, adventure-based storyline, and generous use of colourful images will make it appealing to children who are ready for more serious and challenging stories but are uncomfortable moving away from pictures altogether.
  • The language of the narrative is plain and uninspiring. Despite its gorgeous setting and interesting plot, the story is somewhat boring. The prose does not generate any pace or emotion, and is too literal to capture a reader’s imagination.
  •  Despite the realistic setting and issue that the book describes, many parts feel a little unrealistic. Some readers may be unimpressed with how easily the friends are able to steal the report and leak it to the press, and how quickly their problems are solved.
  • At one point in the story, Tenzin wonders whether or not to steal the report. His training as a monk makes him uncomfortable with the morality of such an act, but he justifies it by telling himself that his action will not hurt anyone. Be warned that readers may be inspired to extend this seemingly fool-proof logic to other situations as well!


Saving the Dalai Lama’s Cranes is an informative read, which could have been lifted and made more engaging by better, sharper writing.


Author: Neeraj Vagholikar
Illustrator: Niloufer Wadia
Language: English
Page Extent: 60 pages
Price: Rs 150
ISBN: 978-8187945819
Publisher: Kalpavriksh, 2018
Subject Category: Fiction/Illustrated Storybook/ Environment/Adventure/Northeast India
Age-group: 9+

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