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Cover for The Paper Cowboy

The Paper Cowboy

Kristin Levine


List Price: 9.99*
* Individual store prices may vary.

Other Editions of This Title:
Digital Audiobook (10/27/2014)


The newest powerful work of historical fiction from award-winning author of THE LIONS OF LITTLE ROCK Kristin Levine.

Though he thinks of himself as a cowboy, Tommy is really a bully.  He's always playing cruel jokes on classmates or stealing from the store. But Tommy has a reason: life at home is tough. His abusive mother isn't well; in fact, she may be mentally ill, and his sister, Mary Lou, is in the hospital badly burned from doing a chore it was really Tommy's turn to do. To make amends, Tommy takes over Mary Lou's paper route. But the paper route also becomes the perfect way for Tommy to investigate his neighbors after stumbling across a copy of The Daily Worker, a communist newspaper.

Tommy is shocked to learn that one of his neighbors could be a communist, and soon fear of a communist in this tight-knit community takes hold of everyone when Tommy uses the paper to frame a storeowner, Mr. McKenzie. As Mr. McKenzie's business slowly falls apart and Mary Lou doesn't seem to get any better, Tommy's mother's abuse gets worse causing Tommy's bullying to spiral out of control.

Praise For The Paper Cowboy


* “A winningly authentic, realistic and heartwarming family drama.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

* “A thoughtful story about understanding and compassion, distinguished by complex characters and a supportive, tight-knit community.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

* “A sophisticated, powerful story about a community’s ability to help one another out, and the paper cowboy who helps bring them together.”—Booklist, starred review

* “Tommy's struggle to bring his family together ends up bringing the whole community together. His journey is filled with many lessons for young readers and many historically accurate portrayals of life at that time... the lessons--acceptance of others, coming together to help others, forgiveness, and coping with mental illness--are well worth teaching.”—

* “Levine deftly captures a time period filled with an overarching paranoia and small-town life filled with tensions on many levels.”—School Library Journal


“Creating a book that reads as though written in one effortless breath requires a rare talent… Readers will root for a painfully shy girl to discover the depths of her own courage and find hope in the notion that even in tumultuous times, standing up for the people you love can’t be wrong. Satisfying, gratifying, touching, weighty—this authentic piece of work has got soul.” —The New York Times Book Review

“[A] stunning piece of historical fiction.”—School Library Journal, starred review

“[A] riveting, frequently tense portrait of 1958 Little Rock.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

“[A] quietly powerful page-turner.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review


“[An] energetic, seamlessly narrated first novel… Levine handles the setting with grace and nuance.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

“This classic story of how unlikely persons can change things for the better should appeal to all readers.”—VOYA, starred review


Awards and Accolades for The Lions of Little Rock

   •  New York Times Editors' Choice
   •  2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults title
   •  2013 ALA Notable Nominee
   •  Named a Booklist Top 10 Historical Fiction for 2012
   •  2013 Amelia Bloomer Project Pick
   •  VOYA Topshelf Middle Grade Pick
   •  Rebecca Caudill Readers Award (Illinois State List) 
   •  Nominated to Connecticut’s Nutmeg Book Award List
   •  Nominated to the Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Book Award List
   •  Nominated to the 2013 Texas Lone Star Reading List
   •  Nominated to the 2013-2014 South Carolina Book Award List
   •  Nominated to the 2013-2014 Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Award List
   •  Nominated to the 2013-2014 Keystone to Reading Book Awards
   •  Nominated to the 2014 Kentucky Blue Grass Award List
   •  Nominated to the 2013-2014 Maine Book Award List
   •  Nominated to Kansas' William Allen White Award Master List
   •  A Capitol Choices' Noteworthy Titles for Children and Teens
   •  A Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People
   •  NY Public Library 100 Books for Reading and Sharing 
   •  Betsy Bird 100 Magnificent Children’s Books
   •  2013 Bank Street Best Book of the Year
   •  Arkansas Historical Association Susannah DeBlack Award
   •  2012 Cybils Finalist 
   •  2012 Nerdy Book Awards Nominee
   •  Multiple Mock Newbery lists, including Anderson's.
   •  Sold to Scholastic Book Club and Listening Library
   •  Scholastic Bestseller (Feb. 2013)

Awards and Accolades for The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had

   •  2010 ALA Best Book for Young Adults
   •  Nominated to the 2012 Garden State Children's Book Award List
   •  Nominated to the 2012 Utah Beehive Award List
   •  Nominated to the 2011-2012 Land of Enchantment Book Award Master List (New Mexico)
   •  Nominated to the 2010-2011 Virginia Readers’ Choice Award Master List
   •  Nominated to the 2010-2011 Alabama Cemellia Children’s Choice Book Award Master List
   •  Nominated to the 2010 Kansas State Reading Circle Catalog
   •  Nominated to the 2010 Pennsylvania School Library Association’s Young Adult Top Forty (or so)
   •  2010 Judy Lopez Memorial Award for Children’s Literature Honor Book
   •  Indie Next Spring 2009
   •  2010 Top Ten Novels for Youth on Audio
   •  Sold to Scholastic and Korea


Kristin Levine

Puffin Books, 9780142427156, 368pp.

Publication Date: March 1, 2016

About the Author

Kristin Levine lives in Alexandria, VA with her two daughters. The Paper Cowboy is her third novel.