Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Paper Boy

The Paperboy
Dav Pilkey
Ages 4+

When I came across the wonderful talk by Chimamanda Adichie regarding the danger of a single story; it reminded me of an experience that I had when I was around 13-14 years of age. I used to read a lot of fiction and that usually meant Enid Blytons', Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew(although it was not cool to admit that I read Nancy Drew during that age with other boys!). In most of these stories, a few kids used to work as a newspaper boy to earn some extra dough. That fascinated me and I thought why I should not try that out?

I plucked some courage and went and met the uncle who comes to collect money every month for the newspapers and asked him if he can give me a job of dropping the newspapers everyday. I had a red coloured bicycle and I thought that was qualification enough for dropping newspapers. He gave me a wry smile and told me - "The kids that I employ are from very poor families. The money they earn will help their family in a small way. You and your family are relatively better off than them. What do you think? Whom should I give the job to?".

Ouch! One of the early lessons in cultural differences and how things need not work the same all over the world and what we read in the books is not what the situation is in India.

Well that incident and the wonderful talk by Chimamanda leads to the wonderful book called The Paperboy by Dav Pilkey. The book allowed me to vicariously enjoy the life of a paper boy and talk about danger of getting exposed to only books of one country or culture.

In this wonderful book, a boy raises very early every morning, with his faithful dog, to deliver newspapers on his bicycle. With some wonderful colouring, Dav Pilkey shows us the kid waking up, shaking off his deep slumber, quietly having a small breakfast, packing the newspapers, adjusting them on his bicycle and dropping them off across various houses across the suburb. As we pause through the pages, one can sense the life and the enjoyment he gets with his dog as they roam the roads with no one in sight.

For me the silent late nights are eerie, but early mornings silence is almost respectful. The sense of reverence is captured by Dav Pilkey's wonderful colours as the dawn slowly crawls in with the dark night fading away. By the time, the boy is done with his rounds, the lights are up in many houses. His parents and sister are awake, but still in their bed. He tiptoes back to his attic room and dreams away while the rest of the world is busy waking up.

The boy was always the first to greet the day.

11 comments:

Sheela said...

Interesting back-story, Satish! And, "Ouch!" indeed - about your paperboy lesson. When I started understanding enough about child-labor it started to dawn on me about how many 'working kids' I grew up with and didn't realize at that young age about their side of the story...

And, loved the way you tied in Adichie's talk with your personal experience... and ended on a upbeat note about vicarious experience through the book :)

sathish said...

Here is another book related to The PaperBoy that is a nominee for cybils 2009 -

The Last Newspaper Boy in America

Poppins said...

What a phenomenal review Satish - simply loved the background information. It means so much when you know what frame of reference the reviewer is coming from, and I will look out for this book.

sathish said...

sheela and poppins - Thank you.

Praba said...

Thought-provoking, as always!

I love the simplicity of the theme, backdrop & characters - the pictures of boy on a bike, dog following and....the magic of dawn... can't wait to live the experience, given I am a morning person! :-)Caldecott honor - hmmm..nice!

Praba said...

I meant read to "my kids"...you can call it typo - LOL! But, you'll agree one can never be too old for picture books, right?? :-)

meera sriram said...

S, your experience set the neatest backdrop for the book & the review itself. Nicely done!

ChoxBox said...

Nice :) Will look out for this book.

Tharini said...

Wow. Your picks always have this other worldly quality about them. I LOVED what you said about the morning silence being respectful. I really get that, because I am a morning person myself. I can almost hear the thump of the paper landing in a doorway as I finished reading your review!

sathish said...

Praba, chox, meera and tharini - thank you.

utbtkids said...

Woohooo, available in our library.

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