The Camel Bookmobile by Masha Hamilton

Title: The Camel Bookmobile
Author: Masha Hamilton
Genre: Adult Fiction
Setting: Kenya
Source: Library
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

My thoughts: This book is inspired by the Camel Bookmobile Project in Kenya. The books are carried on Camels to remote areas in Africa where children have little or no source for books. Fi is a librarian from New York who volunteers for this project. She is looking for an escape, a life very different from her own.

Mididima is one of the villages in Kenya where this bookmobile visits. These are the villagers who have their set ways for years. They worship nature, they think they are cursed if it doesn’t rain. They have ancient values and philosophies that have been carried down from generations. Obviously they are not too happy about the bookmobile. They think it will corrupt their children’s minds and show them a world which is above their reach, it will take away their traditions. But there are also children like Kanika and Scar Boy (who was attacked by a hyena when he was a toddler) who want to experience something different, who want to widen their horizons.

The author brings out the clash between the modern and the traditional world very well. We think the villagers would be thrilled to have an opportunity to read and learn, but we never think it will clash with their believes and culture.

This book has everything I love in a book, an African setting, lovely characters, beautiful writing, but there was something lacking in The Camel Bookmobile. I couldn’t really get into the book for whatever reasons. It does get really interesting midway but again it disappoints at the end. There were important threads that were left open. I am okay with open endings but here it felt really abrupt.

Nonetheless, it is a book I would recommend.

Author with the Camel Bookmobile

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17 thoughts on “The Camel Bookmobile by Masha Hamilton

  1. Oh wow, the concept of the Camel Mobile is a good one, bringing books to kids who wouldn’t otherwise have them is always a noble idea. Isnt’ it odd how such a small thing as a book can create such an uproar and fear? Though, it’s not the books themselves that are dangerous, but the ideas they can contain. It’s one of the things that make books so wonderful and powerful and dangerous.

    It’s a good book, I suppose, if it does nothing else than make readers aware of the Camel Mobile and its mission, and that such a mission is still needed all over the world.

  2. I remember being very interested in this book when it first came out! I’m sad it didn’t turn out as well as you wanted, but I like the premise of it. And I agree- the setting is fabulous!

  3. What an amazing sounding story. It is always presumptuous of us to assume that other cultures and countries would want exactly what we have. At the same time, this sounds like something I’d have loved to volunteer for too. Gonna put this on my wishlist. Great review, Vi! 🙂

  4. Wow, what a cool project and such a neat vehicle! I’m sorry the book wasn’t fabulous for you 😦 It seems like it brought up some good points on the clashing of cultures though.

  5. The premise of this book is awesome! I remember reading in some magazine about reading projects developed in far flung corners of the world, and I admire the thought and passion of the people behind such initiatives.

  6. It’s funny you reviewed this… (I love the concept, by the way)….I was just thinking out loud with a friend the other day about an idea for an airplane bookmobile up on the north slope of Alaska. We were mulling the feasibility of it, but I guess if you can do it via camels, than it could be done with airplanes, too!

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