While I was reading Val’s blog, I noticed that she was reading The Camel Bookmobile by Masha Hamilton. I found the title fascinating because it brought back memories from childhood. Our neighbourhood bookmobile used to arrive every Tuesday without fail. After school, I would run home, collect my library books and head to the bookmobile. I loved my visits there. Nothing was better, to my mind, than arriving home with a new stack of books to devour.
The idea of a bookmobile by camel struck my imagination and I was delighted to discover that our library had The Camel Bookmobile. When the book arrived, I delved into it and rarely put it down until I reached the last page.
Set in Africa, The Camel Bookmobile is a fictional account based on a real camel bookmobile project that continues to travel to remote areas in Kenya. In this book, an idealistic librarian from New York signs on to work in the bookmobile project and learns much from her experiences.
There is a fascinating cast of characters, from the librarian, Fiona, to a young boy, Taban, who was badly scarred after a hyena attack, to a young girl, Kanika, and her grandmother, Neema, to a teacher, Matani, and to his wife, Jwahir. Then there is the library administrator who talks to his camel as if it was his mother.
For many of the bush people, the arrival of the camel bookmobile is greeted with great enthusiasm. Meanwhile, there are others who worry the books will fill the minds of the young people with ideas that will take them away from their heritage. For Fiona, who believes in the power of book learning, it is an eye-opening experience to come face-to-face with the realities of the people who are reading the books.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Camel Bookmobile, although it took me some time before I could keep the various characters in order. It provided much food for thought and just as Fiona realises, while books, learning and yearning for other experiences transforms lives, there is much also to be learned from truly connecting to people with different cultural experiences.
On a different note and one that has pre-occupied me today, it is election day in Saskatchewan and I am crossing my fingers that the currrent party in power is re-elected. It’s worrisome and I will be watching the election results tonight with bated breath!
I want to thank everyone who has been commenting on my posts – I love reading all your comments. Every comment is much appreciated and savoured!