Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Books about Books

Two wonderful things happened today.

        First, I read about Aisha Esbhani, a 13 year-old from Karachi, Pakistan, who felt that her reading was largely Eurocentric and decided to correct the slant and read a book from every single country in the world. So she created a Facebook page, @reading197countries and asked people to help with recommendations and suggestions. She has also complied an alphabetically organized list of nations and their books that have been recommended to her. Believe me, that’s a terrific resource we have there. Aisha, you are a star! Thank you for spreading book joy.

Next, I read this lovely little picture book called The Librarian of Basra written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter. It’s a true story of a librarian called Alia Muhammad Baker in the city of Basra in Iraq, who hears that war is due to start soon and works hard to save the books in her library, books that have come from all over the world. While the authorities couldn’t care less, Alia works secretly to take away almost all the books – there are 30,000 of them! Does she succeed? Read and find out. 

The text is simple and lucid. While the story is set in the context of war with its associations of death, destruction and tragedy, by resolutely focusing on how one person can make a difference, war is presented to the young reader in a fairly non-threatening manner. While it appears to be a simple story, it brought back images of the burning of books ordered by Hitler in 1932, the burning of the library at Alexandria in Egypt by the invading Roman army, and other such confrontations between intellectuals and autocratic rulers. Dictators and military-based governments everywhere seem to dislike books intensely.

The illustrations borrow from the techniques of folk art. The clever use of colours help to create the appropriate mood.

There are many such delightful books about books, stories, libraries and librarians. Off the top of my head, I can think of a few:

Tomas and the Library Lady by Pat Mora and Raul Colon
A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston
Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie

I am going to write about some of them in the next couple of days. Any suggestions from you? Please do write in.

No comments:

Post a Comment