The Paperboy

by Dav Pilkey

Dav Pilkey's The Paperboy

Children's book review by Steve Barancik

Ages 4-8

A boy and his dog and his job

Once upon a time, before the internet, there was something called a newspaper. And back in that era (when children actually brought themselves to school), the person who delivered the newspaper was called a paperboy.

To tell you the truth, I was pleasantly surprised to find this 1997 Caldecott Honor book still in print. (I write this in 2011.) I feared it would be viewed more as an historical relic than as a picture book.

It's the simplest of stories. While a young boy sleeps, his dog at his feet, a truck delivers the day's newspapers to his house for distribution. The boy wakes and does his job, his dog (a Corgi by the looks of him) at his side.

(Did I say, "Job"? I'm sorry. The newspaper would likely insist that I call the boy an independent contractor.)

Author-illustrator Pilkey walks us through all the details of getting ready for work and then getting down to it. He conveys the sense of duty, as well as the joy and pride in being able to handle responsibilities and do a job well.

If chores are an issue at your home, this book might be just the remedy.

It's a quiet story; the dog and the boy are companions, each with their own responsibilities, and yet not a word is spoken during the narrative, and no other characters are encountered.

As mentioned, Pilkey won Caldecott recognition here for his acrylic paintings, accented with India ink. The colors are the colors of nighttime; not even the words on dark backgrounds are rendered in a true white.

The Paperboy is just a sweet, whispery story about doing what you have to do and being just fine with it. About not having to say, "Look at me!" or "Why do have to?"

And then going back to sleep.

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