Papergirl is a wonderful, educational, middle-grade novel about labor activism and working-class life in Winnipeg. I had a fun time reading it and learned a lot about an under-taught historical event. I’m not Canadian, so I didn’t have much context before reading, but the novel filled me in on what life was like along the way, so I was never left out. However, this also became its downfall in a way.
I liked Cassie and her family. They were a close-knit bunch, supporting each other and passionate about bettering their lives and the lives of those less fortunate than them. Cassie herself was brave in the face of much danger, but she also learned to understand those with a different viewpoint. Her friend, Mary, came out of her shell and started volunteering as well, and their enthusiasm was adorable.
This book had great exploration of class and activism for younger readers. It was honest without being too graphic, and a perfect introduction. I especially liked Cassie’s friendship with Freddie, a boy who sold a rival paper, because they both learned to see past situations and stereotypes into the heart of a person’s choices.
Only one bad thing: At some points, I couldn’t get behind the writing style. I liked how educational it was, but information was presented in blocks sometimes instead of fluidly throughout the story. Additionally, there was a bit of telling instead of showing, that I felt was unnecessary even in a book targeted towards younger readers.
Overall, 4/5 stars for Papergirl for illuminating labor activism and Canadian history in a thoughtful way.
— The Baroness of Books, April 2019