Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Messenger, Messenger by Robert Burleigh illustrated by Barry Root

Text copyright © 2000 by Robert Burleigh, Illustrations copyright © 2000 by Barry Root

Over the last almost 7 years, I have read a couple thousand different books to my 3 kids. After reading so many stories, I admit I began to get a little cocky and believed that that there was no topic that we had not read about.  Messenger, Messenger caused me to realize that I was wrong - My kids had never heard of  a bicycle messenger.

Messenger, Messenger depicts a day in the life of a big city  bike messenger named Calvin Curbhopper (is that not the coolest name?). "Snow, wind, sun rain,/ Morning's come around again./Sun wind, rain snow,/ Messenger, messenger, gotta go./ Calvin Curbhopper rides into the day:/ "Messenger comin', outta my way."" The reader gets to experience the fast paced day of the messenger-  riding up elevators and escalators to deliver urgent packages, talking on his walkie talkie, eating lunch on the go, even delivering packages to a seedy neighborhood.
I particularly love the illustrations of Barry Root. He perfectly captures the energy and diversity of a big city, those same atrributes being what I have always loved about big city life.  Root makes me nostalgic for the days when I actually worked in downtown Chicago, before having children.
My kids could not believe that people are paid to ride their bikes and deliver packages. It is the first profession that made my building-obsessed boys ever waver in their steadfast desire to be architect/engineers/builders. I didn't have the heart to tell them that bicycle messengers, if they still exist, will undoubtedly be obsolete by the time they are old enough to work, due to the internet and email. My  kids like to ride their bikes in a straight line with my 6 yr. old first,, then my 4 year old with training wheels, and bringing up the rear, my 3 year old on a tricyle, all shouting "I'm messenger, messenger, messenger man."

To a kid, a bicycle messenger has to be the ultimate cooooooooool job! Robert Burleigh's words combined with Barry Root's illustrations demonstrate that, oh so well.

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