Paperboy // by Vince Vawter
Newbery Honor Book (2014)
Genre: Upper MG, Coming-of-Age (Historical)
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Basic Plot: A coming-of-age story about an 11-year-old boy who takes his friend’s paper route for a month in the summer. His greatest struggle: overcoming a debilitating stutter.
I’m usually a stickler for proper grammar. This book does not use quotation marks for dialogue and very little commas. This would normally drive me nuts! But in the case of this book, I am fine with it. It’s all part of the characterization of the protagonist.
As a kid, I struggled with a slight stuttering problem. I don’t stutter now, by I remember the struggle to get those words out. In the book, the boy can’t even say his best friend’s name (Art) and calls him “Rat” instead. I loved the relationship between the boy and his Mam. She was wonderful! Especially in how she made him comfortable to let his words come out in their own way. And ditto for Mr. Spiro… He treats the boy like a real person and helps him gain confidence. (And all those books in Mr. Spiro’s house? A dream come true!)
I love the fact that we don’t get the boy’s name until the end of the story. Again, because of plot reasons.
This is a scene were the boy has stopped to visit with one of his newspaper customers: Mr. Spiro. He is blown away by the fact that he sees “Books. Hundreds. Thousands. Wall to wall. Floor to ceiling.” (I love it when books feature books!)
Mr. Spiro got up from his chair and walked around the room and put his hand on different crates.
English fiction. Russian fiction. The Medievals, Shakespeare. Biographies. Politics. Science, both modern and classical. Geology. I find myself fascinated by the study of landmasses. No doubt because of so much time spent bobbing up and down at sea.
I got up and walked around the room from crate to crate. The books were old and worn and most had pieces of paper sticking out the top.
s-s-s-s-Do you have s-s-s-s-p…?
Poetry was a word I always had trouble saying but I was going to blast it out of my mouth if that was what it took.
Do you have S-S-S-S-POETRY BOOKS?
I love, love, love this book! It definitely earned its Newbery Honor award. It’s only a few years old, yet I feel like I read this a long time ago… I’ve actually already done a re-read of this book. That’s how good it is! I feel like it’s been around forever. The award winner that year was Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo. Since I haven’t read that book, I can’t tell you if I think it should have beat out this book or not. (UPDATE: I have now read Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo. In my very humble opinion, that book did not deserve a Newbery Medal. At all. In fact, I would NOT have even given it a Newbery Honor. This makes me rather sad that they passed up this very wonderful book—Paperboy—for that book. Note: I normally love Kate DiCamillo’s books. 😦 )
Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? Do you think it deserved the Newbery? Let me know in the comments!
Newbery Verdict Reading Challenge: This is a personal challenge for me to read books that have either won the Newbery Medal, or are a Newbery Honor book. The Newbery is named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. Since 1922, this annual award has given to the author of the “most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” A Newbery Honor book is given to the runners-up.