Tag Archive | Dav Pilkey

Paperboy, by Dav Pilkey

Paperboy, by Dav Pilkey

Can an illustrator write a good story? The Paperboy knows that’s the wrong question to ask. Instead, the book shows some gorgeous illustrations, while its text just fills in the details. It’s a wonderful example of two art forms combining. Dav Pilkey illustrates his interpretation of a dark neighborhood seen by a newsboy – while Dav Pilkey the author contributes a story which weaves it all together

But it’s the illustrations that are really the star of this book. The title page shows a grey truck leaving the printing building on a dark night. There’s a beautiful two-page drawing of the empty field that truck will pass. Shades of green suggest gentle moonlight, and so do the softened edges on the houses. The sky has turned dark blue, but on the next two pages it’s becoming purple. And the truck parks by some rows of colorful houses which represent the sleeping city.

The paperboy sleeps with his dog – which gives the story a crucial warmth. The boy doesn’t want to get up, but the next page shows his room filled with his lamp’s yellow light. The sleepy boy shuffles alone past the rooms where his family is still sleeping. But at least his pet keeps him company, and the boy and his dog head to the kitchen “where they eat from their bowls.” There’s even a whole page about the dog view of the paper route. (“He knows which trees are for sniffing,” and “which birdbaths are for drinking,” and of course…which squirrels to chase!)

I think it’s a good story, because it captures the best lessons of the paperboy life: that even a child can shoulder a responsibility, and play a role in the neighborhood’s life. The boy puts rubber bands around the papers. And though it’s difficult to ride his bike, he manages. But there’s also a quiet celebration of the joys of being alone. Sometimes the paperboy thinks about big things, and sometimes he thinks about little things. And sometimes, “he is thinking about nothing at all.”

“All the world is asleep except for the paperboy and his dog. And this is the time when they are the happiest.” It’s the same lonely message that Robert Frost shares in his darkest poems. Unfortunately, “little by little, the world around them wakes up.” The sky turns a brilliant orange, and back home, he hears the sounds of his family waking up. But he crawls into his bed, and now carries the pride deep inside of him. He dreams that he’s flying back into the nighttime sky.

And his dog flies with him too.

Captain Underpants Comes to Boise

Captain Underpants and the Revolting Revenge of the Radioactive Robo Boxers

This is pretty exciting. Scholastic Inc. held a big contest this month, and over 3,000 librarians entered for a chance to win it. The prize? An in-person visit from Dav Pilkey, the author of the popular Captain Underpants series. The winner? A small public library in Boise, Idaho. And then pandemonium broke out…

“Word of the author’s visit isn’t just a schoolyard rumor,” reported the Boise Weekly.

“It spread like wildfire,” a Boise librarian told the newspaper. They’d actually stopped some of the event’s publicity, because the news was already spreading like a virus.

“I had never seen such buzz about an event in Boise…” remembers a friend in Boise. “Later, I read that people waited in line for three hours, and some were turned away!” A librarian later told him that over 1,500 people converged on the library! Fortunately, my friend arrived early, bringing his two children for a special treat, and they ended up being among the first 20 people in line.

Captain Underpants comes to Boise

So what was the famous author like in person? “He was awesome and chatted with the kids, drawing little sketches in each of the kid’s books.” Ironically, Dav Pilkey began his doodling as a fidgety kid in elementary school, according to the article in Boise Weekly. As a grown-up, he turned that experience into a series about two elementary students who ultimately convert their doodles into a photocopied comic strip, showing how they helped fight supervillains with the help of Captain Underpants. And now all across America, students are drawing their own comic strips, which ultimately find their way to Dav Pilkey (who gives them an appreciative nod).

“I didn’t want the book to be a story about a superhero,” he tells the newsweekly. “I really wanted it to be about a kid or two kids who just didn’t fit in with school.” fact, some parents still complain about the book’s rowdy tone, and according to the American Library Association, it was last year’s #1 target for book-banning campaigns — receiving even more complaints than 50 Shades of Grey. But Pilkey shares the other side of the story with the Boise newspaper, saying that some parents actually get emotional as they tell him their children love reading now — thanks in part to his funny books.

And seated at a public library in Boise, he tried to return some of the love. Rather than just giving a talk, he requested a chance to sit down and meet individually with the children, autographing their books — and often adding another doodles. “That really makes book-signing worthwhile for me, that personal connection,” he said.

Captain Underpants - Dav Pilkey autograph

“I’m very honored to have this job. It feels like, in some silly way, my books are making a difference.”