The Library Bus

Pajama Pr. Oct. 2020. 32p. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781772781014.
PreS-Gr 1–Villages and refugee camps in Kabul are visited by the area’s only library bus in this picture book that celebrates the continued fight of Afghani women for education. Pari joins her mother on her rounds in a school bus that doesn’t have bus seats, but tables and shelves, to bring books and school supplies to the girls she teaches English. Mama welcomes the excited girls and leads them through the ABCs and counting to 10. The girls browse the shelves looking for new books to read as Pari hands out new pencils. Grimard uses her soft watercolor palette to contrast the tans, beiges, and browns of the desert with brightly colored chadors surrounding the girls’ smiling faces and long, dark hair. Mama tells Pari how her grandfather, who is illustrated with head covering, a great white beard, and friendly face, taught her to read hidden in their basement. Mama wants Pari to “[S]tudy hard. Never stop learning. Then you will be free.” When Mama asks Pari “how does learning make you feel,” the young girl throws her hands up, smiles and yells “FREE!” An author’s note follows, explaining refugee camps, growing up under the Taliban, and the author’s personal admiration of female teachers in their pursuit of an education.
VERDICT The conversational text is great for one-on-one sharing, but this will also come in handy at story times, for a celebration of reading, and for a glimpse of Afghani culture.

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