by Marsha Qualey
Thank goodness for public libraries. I’ve been a user and fan for well over 50 years now, but for the last eight months, as I’ve worked with the other bookologists putting together the magazine, I’ve put more book miles on my card than in many years combined.
My local library is the largest in a consortium of nearly 50 libraries in western Wisconsin, which means delivery of special requests happens quickly; that reach and speed has been a key element in my ability to keep up with the necessary book work. This is especially true for the Bookstorm™ books. Before we recommend or write about those titles we like to—at the very least—get our hands on the candidate books, riffle pages, and examine back matter and illustrations. And of course we read. For nearly a year now I make the trip to the library several times a week to see what’s waiting for me on the hold shelf.
This month our Bookstorm™ features Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall, written by Anita Silvey, with photographs and book design by the editorial team at National Geographic. The companion book reading for this month’s storm has quite possibly covered more literary distance than that triggered by previous Bookstorms. Not only have I crossed and recrossed the African continent, but I’ve read about animal friendships and inspiring scientists, East African trickster stories, and visited a market in Zanzibar.
I’ve discovered more than books, of course. I’ve learned about the developing and exciting children’s literature scene throughout the African continent: The Golden Baobab Prize, first awarded in 2009 to celebrate and encourage emerging writers and illustrators of children’s stories; Bookshy, a wonderful blogger who focuses on African literature and book art; Book Dash, a writers and illustrators’ project designed to provide thousands of children with story books at little or no cost, and–most intriguing–Worldreader, a nonprofit that provides e-readers and e-books to schools and students in Africa and also works with African publishers to digitize their titles.
And of course, I’ve read and thought a lot about Dr. Jane Goodall. As Bookstorm™ creator Vicki Palmquist says in her introduction to this month’s ‘storm, “[i]t’s not often that a book offers us a glimpse into the childhood of a woman who has followed a brave, and caring, career path, but also follows her through more than 50 years in that chosen profession, describing her work, discoveries, and her passion for the mammals with whom she works.”
Thanks for visiting Bookology. Please roam, and enjoy.