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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Biblioburro, written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter. Beach Lane, Simon & Schuster, 2010.$21.99 ages 4 and up

"I can bring my books into the faraway hills
to share with those who have none.
One burro can carry books,
and another burro could carry me - and more books!"

Jeanette Winter finds the best stories to tell and tells them with joy and simplicity. In this true story from Colombia she introduces her audience to Luis Soriano, a school teacher who lives in a book-filled house with his family. His love of reading and books inspires him to share with others not as forunate. For the past ten years, on most Saturdays, he travels to remote ares of northern Colombia. His travel companions are his two burros, Alfa and Beto. One carries Luis and some books. The other carries the books that he wants to share with those who have no access to the 'other worlds' he has found within their pages.

He says:

"I started out with 70 books, and now I have a collection of more than 4,800.
This began as a necessity; then it became an obligation; and after that a custom. Now, it is an institution."

What an incredible legacy and what an inspired way to have books reach families in the tough and dangerous area he travels! He is not deterred by the rough roads or persistent and dangerous bandits. He has a mission and he is determined to carry it out. He knows the power of story and the joy that comes from reading. He wants that for the people of his world. Luis is an inspiration, and deserving of his story being told by such a fine writer. He is proof positive that each one of us can make a difference. It is a powerful lesson to learn.

And I have not even mentioned the artwork...full of the brilliant colors of South America, the deep greens of the tropics and the bold oranges of wide-winged butterflies. One full page spread shows Luis sharing his story of the three little pigs while dreamscapes dance in the heads of his listeners, who are all wearing pig masks. The children borrow the books they long to read, Luis climbs onto his burro's back and returns to his home and his beloved books, knowing that the children who borrow will greet him with pleasure when next he visits.

"At home, Luis feeds his hungry burros.
And Diana feeds her hungry husband.
But then, instead of sleeping,
Luis picks up his book
and reads deep into the night."

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