Paperback: 192 pages

Publisher: Eye Books (21 July 2016)

ISBN-13: 978-1785630170

Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2 x 19.8 cm

Soft Courage

Tess Burrows

£9.99

 “A wise-but-humble book”

Soft Courage is the story, told through the eyes of a soft toy penguin called Yannick, of the adventures of peace activist and mountaineer Tess Burrows. It should not be mistaken for a children's book – although many adventurous, outdoorsy and sensitive children will love it for its blend of exciting, high-altitude adventure and nuggets of spiritual wisdom, inspired by the teachings of Buddhism. By the end, we are given an insight into how the character of Yannick has developed, and how these teachings might be used to inform and enhance our everyday lives. 

Extracts

As we sat quietly swaying with the motion of the waves I thought I’d better try too. If my promise is to be a better me, then perhaps I need to know who I am now so I can recognise who I am when I become better! I banned my Pegbert from saying anything and let my mind be calm. Wooh! I found it surprisingly easy to listen to thoughts floating by… I am the wind… I am the waves… I am the sunlight. Oh, great … but then those thoughts weren’t really much good were they? I could do with sensible sort of answers. Oh well. It was fun trying.

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Extracts

As we sat quietly swaying with the motion of the waves I thought I’d better try too. If my promise is to be a better me, then perhaps I need to know who I am now so I can recognise who I am when I become better! I banned my Pegbert from saying anything and let my mind be calm. Wooh! I found it surprisingly easy to listen to thoughts floating by… I am the wind… I am the waves… I am the sunlight. Oh, great … but then those thoughts weren’t really much good were they? I could do with sensible sort of answers. Oh well. It was fun trying.

“We have to stop the wrecking of our planet, Yannick," she said. "I think we should do a protest climb, to call attention to the plight of the Antarctic. That way a small group of people can make a big splash so that others will sit up and take notice." She meant, of course, people and penguins, but I let it pass, as I was so caught up in her excitement that we, a couple of small individuals, could do something good to make a difference for the earth.

The teacher wanted us to encourage the children to think about what they were doing to the environment. But they were so excited to see me that I was over cuddled and passed from child to child until a fight broke out. I became flustered custard and went into a Yannick panic, worrying that I might be separated from My Human. Where’s all this inner peace when I need it? I was rescued just in time and taken to the nice, safe newspaper and radio people. It's not always easy being so famous.

quotes

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s this: I can’t avoid tough stuff and unexpected nasty things happening, but by facing these things I find treasure.” – Yannick Penguin

Inner Peace: Fear only attracts that which is feared

Friendship for the Earth: Not conquering nature but making peace with it

Oneness: With love there is no separation

Determination: The treasure is in how you pick yourself up and start again

reviews

This has the look and feel of a children's book, and while there are plenty of outdoorsy, deep-thinking children who will love it, the issues addressed are as profound and 'grown-up' as you want them to be. It can be read at the simple level: accounts of fairly extreme mountain climbs (by people who do not necessarily claim to be experts, and possibly should know better!) but there is much more to it. Each chapter is framed by one of the nine central tenets of Buddhism, and the events that unfold become part of the spiritual development of Yannick the soft toy penguin, who narrates this book. It is the kind of book you can dip into as a kind of daily devotional reader, or start at page one and keep reading to see how the story unfolds. "Uplifting" is such an overused word in reviews like this, but in so many senses, this is the best word to use for this charming, wise-but-humble book.

(5* Amazon review)

extras

How does a 60 year old grandmother train for a trek to the South Pole?

 

ABOUT

Tess Burrows

Tess Burrows was born in Southern England in 1948 and educated at Bedales School. She gained a degree in Ecological Science from Edinburgh University and moved to Australia to grow trees. In 1984 she returned as the mother of three young boys, with the gentleness of motherhood being paramount. In 1990, hit by the realisation that it is possible to help the Earth and make a difference, she started climbing and using this medium for a number of unusual events raising awareness and funds for charity.

In 1998 she founded Climb For Tibet with her partner Pete. Together they undertook various “peace climbs”, raising over £130,000 for building schools in Tibet for underprivileged children and other humanitarian and environmental projects.

Best-selling author of Cry from The Highest Mountain, peace activist, climbing instructor, healer, motivational speaker and grandmother of four little ones – one of whom was born the same day as Touch the Sky.

Find out more about Tess at tessburrows.org.

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