Monday, September 06, 2010

Clara and the Bookwagon

Image Courtesy Amazon 
Written by Nancy Smiler Levinson
Illustrations by Carolyn Croll
Published by HarperTrophy
I Can Read Books.
Ages: 4-8yrs

Set in the early 1900s, this is a story of Clara, a girl living on a farm in Maryland.

Clara is a great help to her mother in the house, helping in the kitchen, and with the babies. She is also a great help to her father on the farm, right from planting the corn, to tossing the hay.

But what Clara would most like to do, is to learn to read, and learn about 'the sun and the stars. She wanted to learn how corn grew from seeds...Sometimes she liked to make up her own stories...But there was no money for extra things. And, as her father said, "Books are for rich people. Farm people like us do not have time to read." '

This makes her very very sad, but she has no other options. There is no school, and no way she can get any books.

One day, while Clara was out picking wild blueberries for Mama to make blueberry jam, a big black wagon driven by a lady came by. The lady, whose name was Miss Mary, was a librarian, and the wagon was her mobile library. She made it her business to go from place to place with her books, so that little children like Clara could learn and read.

What happens next? Are Miss Mary and Clara able to convince Mama and Papa that books and reading are not a 'waste of time for farm people?'

This is a story based upon the true account of the USA's first travelling bookwagon. It was started in 1905 by a Mary Lemist Titcomb, for people who lived far from cities, and did not have access to books. By 1912, it was no longer horsedriven, and had a new motor-driven van, which covered longer distances faster, making it a very successful enterprise, and a boon to those, who like Clara, lived on far-flung farming lands.

September 8th is the International Literacy Day. This book is about just such an endeavour. It also reminded me of Pratham books' social publishing strategy of a book in every child's hand.   


Choxbox said...

Nice pick S.

A friend who lives in a central Asian country has done something similar - set up a library for the children of the farm hands and villagers around their farm house. She has collected these books over the years, now her kids are all grown up and what better use than this?

Fwding this to her.

Meera Sriram said...

Beautiful Sandhya! The story, the review and the dedication. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Am going to defly pick this one up. Thanks for this!

Gautam said...

Why thank, you Sandhya. It really does mean a lot to us,,,

Maya said...

Thanks for the mention Sandhya. And we love the Saffron Tree gang :). All of you.

Praba Ram said...

Lovely, S. In some ways, Clara reminds me of The Why-Why Girl. Perfectly timed for the Literacy Day! Thnks for this. Will check it out.

sandhya said...

@Chox: Thanks. Your friend is doing a wonderful thing.

@Meera: Thanks.

@Gautham, Maya: You are welcome. We enjoy Pratham Books a lot here at home. Esp. now that I have picked up a few in Marathi on my visit to the Pratham books' office.:)

@Prabha: True, it does remind one of the Why-why girl.

Choxbox said...

Found this book yesterday. Thanks for the reco!

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