June 11, 2007
"The Camel Bookmobile" by Marsha Hamilton
Marsha Hamilton’s novel “The Camel Bookmobile,” tells the story of a 36-year old, New York librarian who moves to Kenya for a year as part of a program to run a mobile library that uses camels for transporting the librarians and books to remote villages. The narrative changes each chapter to tell the story from the perspective a different character including the American, the librarian from Nairobi who oversees the program, the teacher in Mididima, one of the small, nomadic villages, and several others in Mididima. The camel library causes turmoil in Mididima: the teacher wants the library to help increase literacy and options for the people of his village; but the tribal elders are concerned the exposure to books, especially those that are irrelevant to their nomadic lifestyle, will destroy their oral traditions of storytelling. A bigger problem looms when one of the town’s young men, Scar Boy, refuses to return the books he borrowed. Due to the small number of books available for the program, the Kenyan librarian considers loss of a book reason to stop visiting the village. The American librarian and local teacher try to figure out how to retrieve the books from Scar Boy so the camel library can continue to visit, while the town elders push for the return of the books to protect the reputation of the village prior to refusing to allow the library to return. This a gentle story about the clash of cultures and ethics, the development of friendships, and the fragility of family life.
ISBN 13: 978-0-06-117348-6
Posted by jnardine at June 11, 2007 10:56 AM