The Library Bus by Bahram Rahman, illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard. Pajama Press, 2020. 9781772781014
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5
Genre: Picture book
What did you like about the book? Pari is excited and a little bit nervous to go out with her Mom on the library bus for the first time. They leave Kabul, traveling to villages and refugee camps where there are no schools for girls. She sits with her Mom as she leads small groups in singing the ABC Song, and by the end of the day Pari can recognize the letters UNHCR on the camp tents. Her Mom tells her that she will be one of the lucky ones to go to a real school in the city next year.
This is a lovely realistic look at girls and education in current day Afghanistan, inspired by children whom the author met as an activist/doctor for children in refugee camps. Although the focus is on Pari and her mother, readers are gently introduced to conditions for girls in the villages and refugee camps of the countryside. The lovely watercolor and digital art gives a soft, ethereal feel to the characters and setting, and adds dignity to the girls’ determination to read. Images of their chadors softly waving in the breeze adds a poignant touch. An author’s note and information about refugee camps at the end provide additional insight into why people are in the refugee camps. This is an excellent book to share to broaden kids’ minds about education in other parts of the world.
Anything you didn’t like about it? No
To whom would you recommend this book? For ages 4-8, a nice choice for story time or classroom discussion
Who should buy this book? Elementary school and public libraries
Where would you shelve it ? Picture books
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA
Date of review: April 10, 2021