Cover image for Paper John
Paper John
Small, David, 1945-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Pine Plains, N.Y. : Live Oak Media, [1998]

Physical Description:
1 audiocassette : analog + 1 book.
A good-hearted fellow who lives by the sea in a paper house and makes paper boats for the village children comes up against the devil in a life or death situation which can be salvaged only by his skill with paper folding.
Reading Level:
AD 630 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 4.3 0.5 43249.
Format :
Sound Cassette

Sound Recording


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
CASSETTE KIT 1015 Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
CASSETTE KIT 1015 TEXT Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

On Order



Paper John moves to a little town by the edge of the sea and makes his living folding beautiful paper flowers, birds, and boats. HE is so skilled he even makes a paper house to live in. And he is so gentle and good-natured that the townsfolk all agree he could get along with the devil himself. But when a devil comes to town, Paper John's skill and patience is put to the test as he does battle with the devil and his one devilish trick. Lively full-color paintings add to all the fun. David Small is the illustrator of many books for children, including Anna and the Seven Swans, a Booklist Editor's Choice and a School Library Journal Best Book for 1984. His most recent book, Imogene's Antlers, is a 1986 Reading Rainbow Feature Selection. This is his first book with Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Mr. Small lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Author Notes

David Small was born on February 12, 1945, in Detroit, Michigan. He studied art and English at Wayne State University, and went on to complete graduate studies in art at Yale. After receiving his MFA degree, he taught drawing and printmaking at the State University of New York, Fredonia College, Kalamazoo College, and the University of Michigan. He also created editorial cartoons for publications such as the New Yorker, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal. In the 1980s, he lost his teaching job due to cutbacks. It was then that he committed himself to combining his loves of writing and art.

His first picture book, Eulalie and the Hopping Head, was published in 1981. He earned a 1997 Caldecott Honor and The Christopher Medal for The Gardener, written by his wife, Sarah Stewart. In 2001, he received the Caldecott Medal for his artwork in So, You Want To Be President? by Judith St. George. His editorial drawings regularly appear in publications such as The New York Times, The New Yorker, GQ, and The Washington Post.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 4-7. Paper John is a gentle soul who arrives in the village and delights children and adults with his origami. Paper flowers, masks, and birds are among his creations; he even makes a paper house for himself lacquered to keep the water out. John's kindness is well known, so not surprisingly, when he sees a crabby gray-colored man tangled in his fishing line, he pulls him out and gives him shelter and food. But this little man is no ordinary fellow. A devil in the true sense of the word, he repays John's kindness by stealing the villagers' money and escaping in John's magnificent paper kite. When the wicked one is shot down by one of John's paper falcons, he uses his mastery over the wind to destroy the village. But in performing its evil deed, the gusty wind also turns on the devil, blowing him back to where he came from. John, in his paper boat, saves the townsfolk, who want to reward him by appointing him mayor. John declines, however, content to live his simple life, surrounded by his friends and paper creations. Small is one of the most inventive illustrators around today. His work, filled with charm and nuance, has a certain quaintness that is uniquely his own. The candy-color palette he uses to depict the village life contrasts well with the nasty little gray devil and the leaden sky that is home to the multiheaded wind. Naturally, paper figures and shapes are strewn liberally throughout the pictures, and young eyes will want a second and third look at the rows of paper dolls, angels, and snowflakes that adorn John's one-room house. IC. Origami Fiction / Devil Fiction 86-45361

Publisher's Weekly Review

A paper-folding man by the name of John becomes hero to an entire town in Small's inventive and funny tale. Ages 3-up. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 1-3 Young John makes his living selling paper toys, flowers, kites, and favors. He wears a paper hat, sleeps in a paper bed, even his house is made of paperand a good thing, too, for when an angry imp has the whole town blown out to sea, John refolds his house into a boat and sails to the rescue. Readers who enjoyed Small's Imogene's Antlers (Crown, 1985) will find the same sort of witty, slightly antique-looking illustrations here. John wears baggy 19th-Century clothes and a genial expression; the diminutive devil, all in gray, scowls his way ferociously through the story; and Small scatters cats, children, and accurately-rendered paper objects all about. Besides being a terrific, imaginative story, this is a natural for use with origami; there is a feasible progression from one model to another (no step-by-step directions, though), and the transformation of house to boat, which occurs over several pages, captures paperfolding's creative magic perfectly. John Peters, New York Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.