by Gloria Houston, Illustrated by Susan Condie Lamb
Review by Brenna B. (demiducky25)
I saw this book in a display at the library and the cover image immediately caught my attention. In concept, it reminded me of one of my favorite childhood books, Clara and the Bookwagon, so nostalgia caused me to pick this book up.
This book tells the story of Miss Dorothy, a young woman who grew up with a love of books. She went to college and studied hard with the hopes of one day becoming a librarian in a library similar to the one in her town. However, Miss Dorothy got married and ended up moving far away with her husband to a very rural town without a library. After living in the community for a while, Miss Dorothy spoke at a town meeting to convince everyone that they needed a library. The townspeople agree, and a collection was taken to purchase a bookmobile. It’s not what Miss Dorothy wanted as her dream was to work in a brick library like the one she grew up with, but it’s a start. Eventually, Miss Dorothy’s bookmobile becomes an important fixture in the community, and she provides a service that the people in this spread out rural community wouldn’t have had otherwise, but will Miss Dorothy come to see that it isn’t the physical structure that makes a library a library, but rather the love and enthusiasm that the librarian brings to the people?
The colorful illustrations in this book really help to bring this story to life. Although the exact time period is never stated in the story or in the author’s note afterwards, you do get a sense that it is in the past from the illustrations, but nothing is so clearly “dated” that you can really even estimate a time-frame. The author’s note at the end does provide some information about the real Miss Dorothy, Dorothy Thomas, but the only hints in figuring out that the events in the story happened quite a long time ago was the fact that it was mentioned that she had died and no one today seems to know where she’s buried.
Being the history buff that I am, of course I had to research the real Miss Dorothy so I could find out anything else about her life. I’m still conducting my search, but there were very few references to her that I could find. One reference I found was a quote by a Dorothy B. Thomas, librarian in North Carolina from an article about interlibrary loans written sometime in the 1950s and a county officials list from North Carolina written in 1967. I’ve estimated her years of service to be 1948 with the start of the bookmobile to sometime after 1967 if that list of county officials refers to the same Dorothy Thomas (perhaps she served until the early 1970s or so).
Besides those brief references, the only two other sources that I could find with some information were an article about the county libraries celebrating their 50th anniversary of joined services: http://averyjournal.com/Centennial/story/AMY-at-50-joins-in-Averys-Centennial-Celebration-id-008643
And an article written in the Yancy community paper about the same event (on the second page there is a picture of Dorothy Thomas with the bookmobile): http://www.yanceytimesjournal.com/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_view&gid=46&Itemid=18
Otherwise, the information on Dorothy Thomas has been fairly sparse.
Although Miss Dorothy and her Bookmobile is meant for ages 6-9 according to the book jacket, I recommend this book for any child (or adult), especially those who just love books. It gave me a warm feeling of happy nostalgia since it reminded me of the bookmobile book that I enjoyed growing up, and I hope that reading this book will help a child out there today discover their love of books. The dedication page says “For all Librarians, who bring the world to our door(s). So thank you, Dorothy Thomas and all the other librarians out that for opening those doors for us! 🙂