Caldecott Honor Book, American Library Association, 1997, for The Paperboy.
I completely fell in love with this picture book- and can’t believe I was not familiar with it before. The enchanting narrative of a young boy- who works hard while his family (and most of the neighborhood) still sleeps.
The bucolic landscape of suburban America is story book perfect- this is the kind of neighborhood most people dream of living in- orderly 2 story timber houses on well paved winding streets with gentle rolling green hills in the foreground. This seems like a distant land from Singapore- where a child can freely ride on his bicycle- with no dangers of oncoming traffic- with his stubby legged dog chasing by his side. The young boy delivers a heavy sack full of newspaper up and down the neighbourhood streets- riding with dedication and skill on his two wheel bicycle.
I read and re read the name of the author- surely this could not be the same author who wrote the dreaded- Captain Underpants series- I have avoided vehemently… It’s the same one. I was surprised. The style is completely different.
“All the world is asleep except for the paperboy and his dog. And this is the time when they are the happiest.”
A sentiment I wholeheartedly understood- I love the early mornings in my home and treasure those pre dawn hours- it’s when my house and neighborhood take on a magical quality- still and safe- quiet with the hint of anticipation- wondering what excitement lies ahead with none of the exhaustion after a day of running errands, and answering emails.
Perhaps my favorite part of this book was the final scene where the young boy- crawls back into his bed- and falls back to sleep- enjoying the satisfaction of the knowledge that he did his job well! His little doggy curled up and snuggled at his feet- a cozy domestic idyll. I long for those divine and fleeting instances where I can surrender to sleep- a rare treat- most days are over scheduled and hectic- a morning lie in is a real luxury.