Nancy's Reviews > The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq

The Librarian of Basra by Jeanette Winter
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Nov 18, 10

bookshelves: informational, international, middle-eastern

Published: 2005, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Age: 4-8

This is the story of Alia Muhammed Baker, the chief librarian of Basra, Iraq, who saved 30,000 books (70% of the books) from Basra's library before it burned during the U.S. invasion of Iraq on April 6, 2003. She had been a librarian for 14 years and when the war came she worried that the library would be destroyed forever. The governor will not save the books so Baker takes matters into her own hands to save the books from burning and ends up having to move the books twice in order to save them. Not long after the library burned Baker suffered a stroke and had heart surgery but is determined to see the library rebuilt. The book is written in short, simple sentences with minimal amount of text on each page. She captures the spirit of her subject rather than give every significant fact for report writing. She paints simple, uncluttered pictures that have little shading or depth of field, which makes them appear flat rather than realistic.
This book gives librarians an opportunity to open up discussions about war in Iraq and where exactly Iraq is. It also opens discussions about what a librarian is. Why books are important, what is a hero, what things going on in the world worry you. Proceeds from this book go to a fund set up by the ALA to help Alia rebuild the book collection.
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message 1: by Esther (new) - added it

Esther This is a great book that shows the sacrifice and dedication of one librarian who faces hardship and adversity throughout her life. I think that the illustrations only add to the text and allow the reader to take in the more intense scenes without seeing the graphic images. I think that through this tale children will be able to see how privileged they are to have a library and librarian as well as how various significant cultural events can affect others' daily life. I think that this text could also be used to introduce children to the idea of aid and social justice through the examination of the ALA fund and what relief efforts are put into place for the Iraqi children.


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