PAPERBOY by Isabelle Holland


Age Range: 8 - 12
Email this review


Holland recreates the battles of thousands of Irish immigrants against poverty and prejudice in New York City in the late 1800s. Kevin O’Donnell fights to earn pennies to buy food for his little sister. Luck strikes when Kevin steals his favorite newspaper to sell and is caught by the owner, Mr. Langley. He takes a shine to Kevin, offers him a job as a messenger, and later begins to teach him to write; in the meantime, Kevin succumbs to his own prejudices, remaining suspicious of his wealthy boss. When his father is injured, Kevin assumes financial responsibility for the entire family, while also nursing a dream of working as a reporter on a newspaper. Falsely accused of theft, Kevin quits, then turns to stealing in an effort to keep the landlord at bay. Mr. Langley rescues him when Kevin is arrested, and everything comes out all right. Holland creates believable characters, driven to act by need and circumstance, and torn between right and wrong. The book may be useful for helping children understand a few basic concepts about writing while offering a suspenseful introduction to the difficulties faced by immigrants. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: July 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-8234-1422-1
Page count: 137pp
Publisher: Holiday House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1999