This wonderful novel, Camel Bookmobile by Masha Hamilton (HarperCollins, 2007) makes my list of top reads from the past year. I would recommend this to any librarian, teacher, or bibliophile. A good cross-over read for teens and adults, the story will speak to philanthropists and for people who want to give or make a difference in the world. The author has a super website to use as a resource and find out more about her journey in writing this story.

A great review and behind-the-book summary is available at Library Journal in an article by Barbara Hoffert. Or, read the author’s Story Behind the Book or watch the video that motivated the telling of this story.

The recipe for success of this book is Hamilton’s expert storytelling, compelling writing and characters, and the plot. Hamilton introduces the element of cultural sensitivity: books are not the same for a nomadic farming culture in Kenya.

Here’s the summary of this novel from Publisher’s Weekly:

Hamilton’s captivating third novel (after 2004’s The Distance Between Us) follows Fiona Sweeney, a 36-year-old librarian, from New York to Garissa, Kenya, on her sincere but naïve quest to make a difference in the world. Fi enlists to run the titular mobile library overseen by Mr. Abasi, and in her travels through the bush, the small village of Mididima becomes her favorite stop. There, Matani, the village teacher; Kanika, an independent, vivacious young woman; and Kanika’s grandmother Neema are the most avid proponents of the library and the knowledge it brings to the community. Not everyone shares such esteem for the project, however. Taban, known as Scar Boy; Jwahir, Matani’s wife; and most of the town elders think these books threaten the tradition and security of Mididima. When two books go missing, tensions arise between those who welcome all that the books represent and those who prefer the time-honored oral traditions of the tribe. Kanika, Taban and Matani become more vibrant than Fi, who never outgrows the cookie-cutter mold of a woman needing excitement and fulfillment, but Hamilton weaves memorable characters and elemental emotions in artful prose with the lofty theme of Western-imposed “education” versus a village’s perceived perils of exposure to the developed world.  [From Amazon.com]

After reading this novel, I became interested in finding out how many programs or projects there are for book donations across the world. I am even thinking of a program of my own or joining another, that’s how motivating this book is. At the very least, you’ll  want to do something good or beneficial after reading this.

Resources and Book Donations Programs to Check Out:

Start doing the research and find a book donation program. Get your local schools or libraries involved in a purposeful book drive paying attention to each organizations request for cultural awareness/sensitivity.

You can’t go wrong by reading Hamilton’s Camel Bookmobile. You’ll learn about cultural awareness, the power of words, expert storytelling, and societal differences, along with being motivated to make a difference, whether big or small, in our world.

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