Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A Library on Four Legs

Have you ever benefited from a bookmobile? In my small Alabama town, the bookmobile came from the county seat (17 miles away) once a week in the summer, and it was a big deal to be able to browse and check out new reading (at 12, I confess, it was often the Harlequin Omnibus -- three in one volume!)

Now imagine living in the dry bush in Africa, and the bookmobile coming, not in a van, but on the back of a camel. The is the setting of a new novel by author Masha Hamilton, and she didn't make it up. There is a real Camel Bookmobile, operating in northeastern Kenya near the border with troubled Somalia. And they take donations, through a Camel Book Drive coordinated by Ms. Hamilton. Most popular? Children's storybooks, followed by general fiction and non-fiction. English is one of Kenya's main languages; the bookmobile carries books in Swahili and English.

What a cool project for a child looking to clear out a bookshelf of wonderful but outgrown books! Or a book club, or school service group. Don't let postage worries stop you -- send shipments by economy book rate, and the Post Office says it will cost $11.55 for the first eleven pounds, and $1.05 for each pound thereafter. The address, photos and additional information are posted at the Camel Book Drive website.

Compared to spending $$ on New York Times ads, this is a fabulous way to publicize a new novel and do good at the same time. The Paideia Library will be sending a box soon.

Oh, and The Camel Bookmobile is to be released in April 2007.

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