IBBY Review: Paperboy by Vince Vawter

Paperboy by Vince Vawter (Delacorte Press, 2014)

I Am Not My Disability: Outstanding Books For and About Young People with Disabilities

Every two years, the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) chooses outstanding books for and about young people with disabilities. This biennial selection draws attention to books published around the world that address special needs and situations and which encourage inclusion at every level. Outstanding titles, including the one below, become part of The IBBY Collection of Books for Young People with Disabilities. This one-of-a-kind collection is located in Canada at North York Central Library, part of the Toronto Public Library system.

Here is one of the titles from the 2015 list, which also won a Newbery Honor Award in 2014 and appeared on numerous Best Book lists:

by Vince Vawter
(Delacorte Press, 2013
ISBN 978-0-385-74244-3

Reviewed by Debora Pearson*

Victor Vollmer, an eleven-year-old boy with a debilitating stutter, describes the events, both minor and momentous, that take place during the summer of 1959 when he temporarily takes over his friend’s paper route. Known for his skill as a baseball pitcher, Victor is confident that he will have no trouble throwing the papers along the route near his home in Memphis, Tennessee. However he dreads the thought of having to collect newspaper money from customers because he can scarcely utter a word, even his own name, without stuttering.

The short bursts of prose that Victor puts down on paper with the help of a typewriter tell of his anxiety as he struggles to master his speech and the humiliation that arises when he cannot. Victor’s written words are eloquent and compelling to read; they document his astute observations of others, his impressions of the segregated society he lives in and his privileged place within it. As he ventures beyond the safe, caring world of family and friends and encounters someone who wishes him harm, Victor comes to a crucial realization: there is more than one way to have a voice that others will hear and respect.

*Debora Pearson is a children’s librarian at North York Central Library, part of the Toronto Public Library system, where The IBBY Collection of Books for Young People with Disabilities is located. Debora works with Leigh Turina, the lead librarian for this collection, and helps promote the collection through social media. She also conducts IBBY collection visits for school classes and youth groups, provides reference support, and assists with the compilation of the collection’s biennial list of outstanding titles.
This review is © Toronto Public Library, 2016.


Read An Introduction to the IBBY Collection for Young People with Disabilities by lead librarian Leigh Turina.

Read MWD’s monthly reviews of books from the Collection.

Visit the Collection’s website to find out more, including how to visit.


  1. This sounds like such a wonderful book! Thanks for the review! #diversekidlit

  2. I’ve read this book and thoroughly enjoyed it!

  3. As a person who had a not quite as debilitating stutter as a child as Victor’s, I really appreciated the way the author handled it in this book.

  4. It’s fantastic to see less-visible, but no less debilitating, disabilities discussed and treated with respect in children’s books. Not every challenge is highly visible and immediately recognizable, and children with less visible disabilities can sometimes fall through society’s cracks. I’m going to have to take a look at this title, thank you for sharing it.

  5. Thanks for bringing this important award to my attention! I am moving up to teaching middle school next year and recently picked this book. Moving it to the top of my TBR list! Thanks for sharing with #diversekidlit.

    • I’m grateful for Debora’s recommendation too. My copy just arrived yesterday and I’m looking forward to reading it – and to passing it on to someone special who will be able to relate to it ( or I hope so, anyway).

  6. Hi Marjorie, thank you so much for bringing this library to my attention. I am now working on a research proposal that hopefully would allow us to visit this collection. 🙂

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