Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Newbery Challenge: Paperboy

My Newbery challenge is to read every Newbery and Honor book.  I've been working on this for a couple of years now.  My goal is to read one book per month.  This is the first book I have finished so I have some catching up to do, which will happen over the summer. 

Paperboy won a Newbery Honor in 2014.  It is set during the summer of 1959 in Memphis, Tennessee, and is the story of an 11-year old boy who takes over a friend’s paper route during part of summer vacation.  The boy lives with his parents and his black housekeeper who calls him “Little Man.”  Being a paperboy isn't too hard until it comes time for collecting, when Little Man has to talk to his customers.  The reason this is a challenge and why we do not know the boy’s name is because he has a stuttering problem.

I had a stuttering problem in elementary school, but it wasn't severe and all I can remember about having it was my mother telling me to slow down while talking.  Little Man deals with his stuttering by adding an “s” sound before lots of words and completely avoiding words with certain sounds because he cannot pronounce them, including the sound of his own name. 

I enjoyed Paperboy.  I appreciate how the time period was handled; the discrimination Mam faces under segregation laws is mentioned, but is not the driving force of the story.  Mam is a strong, loving presence in Little Man’s life, and reminded me of the black maids from The Help.  Kudos to the 2014 Newbery committee for selecting such a diverse group of books for this year’s medal and honors.

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