Beyond the Book: Background information when reading The Camel Bookmobile

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Camel Bookmobile

by Masha Hamilton

The Camel Bookmobile by Masha Hamilton X
The Camel Bookmobile by Masha Hamilton
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Apr 2007, 320 pages
    Apr 2008, 336 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Beyond the Book

Print Review

As a foreign correspondent for a decade, Masha Hamilton chronicled events overseas, first working for the Associated Press in the Middle East and then later, in Moscow, reporting for the Los Angeles Times, writing a newspaper column, and reporting for NBC/Mutual Radio. Hamilton covered the intefadeh, the peace process, and the partial Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, as well as the coup and collapse of the Soviet Union, the growing independence in Soviet republics, and Kremlin politics. Early in 2004, she worked in Afghanistan as a freelance journalist.

Her debut novel, Staircase of a Thousand Steps was published in 2001, followed by The Distance Between Us in 2004. She lives with her family in New York City, teaches for Gotham Writers' Workshop and is a shiatsu practitioner.

She was inspired to write The Camel Bookmobile after hearing about the real-life Kenyan Camel Mobile Library from her young daughter. Set up by the government-owned Kenyan National Library Service, it operates from Garissa in Kenya's isolated Northeastern Province near the unstable border with Somalia (map). Initially launched with three camels in 1996, it now has 12 camels that travel to four semi-nomadic settlements, four days per week. Just as in The Camel Bookmobile, the books are spread out on grass mats, and the library patrons, often barefoot, sometimes with their goats and donkeys in tow, peruse the books written in either English or Kiswahili (Swahili), which are Kenya's two official languages.

More than 175 authors and many organizations have already donated to the Camel Book Drive that Masha Hamilton has set up with the support of friends. For an update on the library's current needs, and reports from the Camel Mobile Librarian, Mr Farah, visit the website. Particularly in demand are children's story books, nonfiction books covering topics ranging from astronomy to geography to history, and general fiction for children and adults. This page explains more about what sort of books are needed, and how to give either cash or book donations.

A short video of the Camel Bookmobile in action.

Interesting to note
Hamilton did not visit Kenya until The Camel Bookmobile was in its final stages of editing. She says, "I didn't go right away because I'm a reporter, and I didn't want the journalism aspect to kick in."

When she did visit she spent several days traveling with the camel library and found it very much as she had envisaged. At the time of her visit Kenya was suffering through its third year of drought. In a place where famine and poverty are chronic conditions, she saw that books are a rare and valued commodity. She saw that children were mesmerized by the camel library's offerings, and several young men and women indicated that the library had allowed them to prepare for exams they needed to take in order to continue their education.

Since returning she has been extremely active in raising funds and books for the mobile library through the Camel Book Drive.

This article was originally published in April 2007, and has been updated for the April 2008 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

This article is available to non-members for a limited time. You can also read these articles for free. For full access, become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    Wolf Season
    by Helen Benedict
    Rin Drummond's nicknames include "Pit Bull" and "Dragon." She's a tough-as-nails Iraq War ...
  • Book Jacket: La Belle Sauvage
    La Belle Sauvage
    by Philip Pullman
    Voted 2017 Best Young Adult Novel by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    I wasn't quite sure what to expect ...
  • Book Jacket: Leonardo da Vinci
    Leonardo da Vinci
    by Walter Isaacson
    The name Leonardo da Vinci is one of the most recognized in all of Western history, and his ...
  • Book Jacket: The Immortalists
    The Immortalists
    by Chloe Benjamin
    On a summer day in 1969 in New York City, the Gold children agree to seek out a mysterious ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Dry by Jane Harper

Winner of the 2017 BookBrowse Debut Novel Award

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Chalk Man
    by C. J. Tudor

    Relentlessly compelling psychological suspense. The must-read thriller debut of 2018.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Days When Birds Come Back
    by Deborah Reed

    A graceful testament to endurance, rebuilding, and the possibilities of coming home.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Mothers of Sparta

Mothers of Sparta: A Memoir

A dazzling literary memoir with shades of Mary Karr, Anne Lamott and Jenny Lawson.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

A J O A Thousand M B W O S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.