Book Review: Waiting for the Biblioburro

Waiting for the Biblioburro by Monica Brown
From Miss Jacqui at Lexington

Waiting for the Biblioburro begins as a story about a young girl named Ana who lives in a remote village in Columbia.  Ana loves cuentos (stories) and she longs to read all day long.  Although she has a passion for reading, and falling into the adventure and excitement of a book, she only owns one book.  This book was given to her by her former teacher because Ana worked so hard on her reading and writing.  However, her teacher moved away shortly after Ana received the book, and now there is no one to provide books or teach the children in her village.  So Ana spends her time making up her own cuentos to tell her little brother so he can fall asleep at night.

One morning she is awoken to the sounds two burros, donkeys, walking down the road.  She sees a man riding on top of a burro, carrying a sign that reads Biblioburro.  When she sees that the donkeys are carrying books, she runs down to meet him and other children run to greet the man as well. The man introduces himself as a librarian and introduces his burros, Alfa and Beto.  Ana states that she thought libraries were only in big cities or buildings and the man explains that this is a moving library.  He spreads out his books under a tree, and as the children gather around, he tells stories, teaches the children their ABC’s, and he also lets the children pick out books.  He explains that he will be back to collect them in a few weeks, and to bring the children some new books.  Ana gathers many books to take home and tells the man that someone should write a story about his Biblioburro.  The librarian suggests that Ana should be the one to write his story.  As he leaves, Ana runs to her house, and reads her books and shares the stories with her brother.

Ana is eager for more cuentos and waits day after day for the librarian’s return.  Finally the librarian returns and Ana runs to greet him with her borrowed books and a surprise.  As the librarian leaves, he promises to return again and sets off to share new stories with other children in nearby villages.  Waiting for the Biblioburro was inspired by the author’s experience getting to know a man named Luis Soriano Bohorquez.  Luis, a teacher and librarian, loves  books so much that he is willing to travel long distances to deliver books and knowledge to children in the most remote areas of Columbia.  The story of Luis and Ana is inspiring because we can see how far someone will travel to share their love of books and to attain knowledge.

This nonfiction story helps open children’s eyes about how different countries attain books, technology, resources, and knowledge.  It is easy for children and adults alike to take advantage of libraries because in the United States, most people have access to a free public library.  This story shares how different a library is in Columbia.  It also shows how much books and information are valued in Columbia, because they do not have easy access to either.  

Another great non-fiction book about how children gain access to books, information, and technology is the story, My Librarian is a Camel: How Books are Brought to Children Around the World, by Margriet Ruurs.  Countries such as Australia, Canada, England, Kenya, Peru, Thailand, and more are discussed in this book.  Children and adults alike would be interested to know that some libraries are made up of camels, elephants, buses, or boats!  Check out both of these books at your local library branch and learn about the joy and love of books, as well as the interesting and seemingly impossible ways people access books in countries all over the world.

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