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Clara and the Bookwagon, Level 3 (I Can Read Book) Paperback – January 30, 1991
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From School Library Journal
Grade 1-3 Clara, a young farm girl growing up in rural Maryland at the turn of the century, dreams of being able to read and to learn, but her hard working, no-nonsense father says, ``Books are for rich people. Farm people like us do not have time to read.'' During the summer, Clara meets a woman driving a large wagon filled with books. The woman gives Clara a ride back to the farm where, after much persuading, Clara's father agrees to let Clara learn to read and to borrow books from America's first ``bookmobile.'' This is a simple, straightforward fictionalized account of the country's first bookmobile, a horse-drawn book-filled wagon that serviced the country areas around Hagerstown, Maryland, in 1905, and of its librarian, Mary Lemist Titcomb. The story is concise and well-written, a fine early chapter book that can be used in library classes and as a good example of historical fiction for the very young. Colorful illustrations, also unadorned and straightforward, reinforce and complement the mood of the text. The only flaw is that the time period is not in the story, causing children to read the entire story without knowing when it takes place. (It is explained in a brief historical note on the last page.) However, this should not stand in the way of purchasing this fine work. Hayden E. Atwood, Cape Elizabeth Middle School, Maine
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Nancy Smiler Levinson has written many popular books for young readers, including Magellan and the First Voyange Around the World and the I Can Read Books Clara and the Bookwagon, illustrated by Carolyn Croll, and Snowshoe Thompson, illustrated by Joan Sandin. She lives in Beverly Hills, California.
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Clara is a farm girl living in Maryland around 1900. She does not go to school because there are no schools for farm children. Instead, she spends her days working hard on the farm. She has a vivid imagination and loves stories and has a secret wish to learn how to read.
When she visits the general store in town with her father, she wants to borrow a book from the free book station located there, but her father refuses, telling her, “Farm people like us do not have time to read.”
Some time later, Miss Mary comes to visit her farm with her traveling book wagon. She tries to lend Clara a book, but the young girl remembers what her father said and turns it down. The librarian offers to go talk to her father for her and even offers to teach Clara to read.
This wonderful tale is based on the true story of Mary Lemist Titcomb, the head of the Hagerstown, Maryland public library, who started book stations in general stores, churches, and homes. In 1905, she began the first horse-drawn bookmobile.
Levinson makes historical fiction very appealing to younger readers, with a fine eye to the details of rural life, without getting bogged down in old-fashioned terms. While the story is simple, the characters and plot are realistic. In the process, the reader is introduced to the very first "bookmobile," a horse-drawn wagon, based on historical fact.
In our library, this title doesn't get checked out until it is read-aloud or otherwise introduced to the children. After that it gets a lot of use. Recommended.
This is exactly opposite of the life we are trying to create on our farm and can lead to bitter feelings toward work and parents. Reading is a priority here and probably among most farmers, but I feel that the way this situation was handled in this young girls life was wrong. Although my 6 year old read this and we discussed the attitudes exampled here, I will not be saving it for the little ones.