February 23, 2016
A quiet mood piece that depicts the bond between a paperboy and his dog. Human and canine both struggle to rouse themselves, eat breakfast from bowls, and have an intimate knowledge of their route. Pilkey paints their shared experiences with a graceful economy of language.
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
This is now a work of historical fiction-- the boy in the pictures looks no more than ten, and I imagine there are very few places in the US where young children are allowed out in the predawn hours to deliver papers. I had friends who did this back in the 1970s, and this story made them nostalgic, if such a thing is possible, for getting up at 4:00 a.m., riding around town for an hour, then sleeping some more until they had to wake up for school! Modern children will marvel at the freedom such an adventure afforded, and if they knew the boy was being paid to do this, would probably want to go out immediately and find similar employment!
The pictures have a folk art quality to them, and use simple shapes and dark tones. For those familiar with Pilkey's Captain Underpants books, both the quiet, introspective theme of this book, as well as the illustrative style, will be a surprise. I loved the spirit with which the pictures were imbued-- the boy looks very tired at the beginning of his journey, and the dog (who has impossibly short legs if he is following the boy on a bike around!) looks happy to be out and about.
This Caldecott Honor title will be a big hit in households that still get the newspaper, but it might make parents long for the days when the morning newspaper was not delivered by adults!
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