1. Do you have a question we could ask the author? It may be about the book, or its characters, or the actual Camel Bookmobile in Kenya, or why she wrote the book, whatever. (Masha, we would be very pleased if you choose to add your own comments and questions to our discussion.)
2. Fiona Sweeney had found that "the assumptions people made about one another were invariably wrong" (p. 11). If you struggle (as Shirley is struggling) with whether Westerners should disrupt the lives of people like those in Mididimi, ask yourself about Fiona's assumptions, and also about the assumptions made by some of the Kenyans: Mr. Abasi the librarian, the elders who believe it is "far better to learn to read animal scents on the breeze or the coming weather in the clouds" (p. 15), Neema's brother-in-law Elim who believes that "the hours you waste staring at pages ... is a rotten sin" (p. 33). Then compare their assumptions with what the teacher Matani thinks: "How the Camel Bookmobile offered the only chance of survival for this collection of half-nomads with only one toehold in the future" (p. 39).
3. Jwahir, the teacher's wife, thinks the books are "for the foolish or misguided of Mididima" (p. 48), but even she found something good about Library Day. What was it? Do you agree with her assumption that it's a good thing?
4. "Mididima ... means Those Rooted in Dust" (p. 25). How is this a metaphor for the lives of the villagers? In what ways are their lives changing, for the better or for the worse?
5. Mr. Abasi considered Miss Sweeney meddlesome: "These foreigners couldn't understand that literacy was not the only path to education. In tribal settlements, the tradition was an oral one..." (p. 51). What do you think about a librarian with this attitude?
6. What do you think about Mr. Abasi's rule that losing even a single book means the camel bookmobile will not return to the village? What was Mr. Abasi's ulterior motive for making such a rule?
7. Why do you think educated people are feared by the illiterate? "Mothers watched with a mixture of envy and resentment as she [Kanika] shared some mysterious secret with their offspring. They didn't respect her any more than ever. But they were afraid of her ... afraid of the skill she possessed that they didn't have" (p. 16).