By: Vince Vawter
Published: May 14, 2013
Publisher: Delacorte Books
Fiction - Middle Grade/YA
I was drawn to this story because it tells of a young boy and his struggles with stuttering. Both of our teenage boys stutter. The author himself stuttered as a child and wrote this story from his childhood experiences growing up. Vawter has since learned to overcome his struggles with speech and has worked in the newspaper business for many years. PAPERBOY is his first novel and I hope there are more to come. His way of writing for young people is enjoyable for adults as much as the kids.
The main character is an eleven-year-old boy who takes over his best friend's paper route while he goes to the farm for a few weeks in the summer of 1959 in Memphis. He narrates the story, much like the narrator in the movie "Stand By Me". He has an arm that can throw the meanest fastball in town, so he knows throwing the paper won't be a problem. But, as he begins his paper route, he realizes that for the next four Fridays, he will have to approach the people on his route to collect the money. He will have to speak to them and the problem with that is, he stutters. He can't even say his own name without passing out from holding his breath.
Through the paper route, we are introduced to other characters who turn out to be critical to the telling of the story. Mrs. Worthington's sad cries and beauty will forever haunt the boy. Mr. Spiro's wisdom, patience, and house full of books could be just enough to bring him through his stuttering. Ara T's looming presence and secret shed just might put him in danger. Finally, Mam, his family's black housekeeper, gets in trouble and he might be the only one who can save her. Lil' Man, as Mam calls him, will have to make a choice and confront one of his biggest fears over this hot Memphis summer.
Through this story, we see Lil' Man grow up and gain confidence in just four short weeks. We see how some adults ignore him and kids make fun of him. We also meet others who treat him like the great kid he is. We are privy to his thoughts and the words he wishes he could say, but instead stays silent. Beyond PAPERBOY being a coming-of-age story, it also reminds us that we can all overcome the things that scare us most.
PAPERBOY is great for kids in upper elementary as well as adults who grew up in the early 1960's. I know I will be sharing it with our boys who will be able to identify with Lil' Man and his fears, struggles, and frustrations. If teachers out there would like to share this with their classroom, there is an educator's guide available for download, HERE.
|Vince Vawter - source|
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I'll be linking up with Booking Mama and other bloggers for this week's Kid Konnection on Saturday. Check out Kid Konnection for other book reviews and posts related to Children's and YA books.