Hannah’s Bookmobile Christmas
By Sally Derby
Illustrated by Gabriela Swiatkowska
Review by: Jerrie DeRose
Author Sally Derby’s children’s book, Hannah’s Bookmobile Christmas is not only a delightful read, it is a story that incorporates nostalgia, history and an American tradition.
“Mary and Blue Bird had a history together. In 1970 Blue Bird, shiny and new, became Wadsworth’s first bookmobile. With pictures of books and children on her sides and the name Blue Bird above her grille, she could carry over 4,000 books and Mary had climbed behind the wheel as the town’s first bookmobile driver-librarian.” Thus the reader is introduced to the main characters and the Christmas Even trip through town with the final stop being the home of Mary’s niece and helper, Hannah, who lives on the treacherous hill Devil’s Backbone.
Their many stops include to Sarah at the post office, a local author Sol Eichberg who also reads his stories to the kids at school, the nursery school, and Chad Worth who is brought into Blue Bird with a special wheel chair lift. Each person plies Mary with Christmas gifts of food and drink to show their appreciation for all she does. Unfortunately a winter storm makes it impossible for Mary to get Hannah home in time to share Christmas Eve with her family when the steep road up Devil’s Backbone becomes too slick to travel safely and the two are stranded over night halfway between town and Hannah’s house. But Mary, in her special way turns this event into a magical and special treat of warmth and sharing between her and Hannah. And in a one page “Afterword”, readers are treated to the history of “Bookmobiles in the United States.
About the author and Illustration: Sally Derby is the author of several books for young children, including Taiko on a Windy Night. An avid collector of children’s books herself, Mrs. Derby thinks she may soon need her own bookmobile to house all her literary treasures.
Illustrations by Gabi Swiatkowska, who studied at Poland’s prestigious Liceum of Art and who is also a freelance artist and former preschool teachers, are done in beautiful colors and very expressive. They lend beauty to a wonderful holiday story.