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The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963

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The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963 Cover

 

 

Author Q & A

Born in Flint, Michigan, Christopher Paul Curtis spent his first 13 years after high school on the assembly line of Flint's historic Fisher Body Plant #1. His job entailed hanging doors, and it left him with an aversion to getting into and out of large automobiles-particularly big Buicks.

Curtis's writing-and his dedication to it-has been greatly influenced by his family members, particularly his wife, Kaysandra. With grandfathers like Earl "Lefty" Lewis, a Negro Baseball League pitcher, and 1930s bandleader Herman E. Curtis, Sr., of "Herman Curtis and the Dusky Devastators of the Depression," it is easy to see why Christopher Paul Curtis was destined to become an entertainer.

In Bud, Not Buddy, Curtis tells the story of 10-year-old Bud Caldwell, who hits the road in search of his father and his home. Times may be hard in 1936 Flint, Michigan, but orphaned Bud's got a few things going for him; he believes his mother left a clue of who his father was-and nothing can stop Bud from trying to find him.

Curtis' debut novel, The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963, received both a Newbery Honor and a Coretta Scott King Honor in 1996. It tells the story of 10-year-old Kenny and his family, the Weird Watsons of Flint, Michigan, and their unforgettable journey that leads them into one of the darkest moments in American history. It is by turns a hilarious, touching, and tragic story about civil rights and the impact of violence on one family.

fun facts

Born

May 10, in Flint, Michigan

Inspiration for writing

I believe that young people are often blessed with the best ears for detecting what rings true or what feels right in a particular piece of writing. To me the highest accolade comes when a young reader tells me, "I really liked your book." The young seem to be able to say "really" with a clarity, a faith, and an honesty that we adults have long forgotten. That is why I write.

Previous jobs

Factory worker, campaign worker, maintenance man, customer service representative, warehouse clerk, purchasing clerk

Favorite hobbies

Playing basketball, collecting old record albums, writing

Favorite foods

Mexican, Indian, West Indian

Favorite books

Anything by Toni Morrison, Kurt Vonnegut, and Zora Neale Hurston

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780385729857
Subtitle:
A Novel
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Creator:
Christopher Paul Curtis
Author:
Curtis, Christopher Paul
Author:
Christopher Paul Curtis
Subject:
Family life
Subject:
Ethnic - African American
Subject:
Ethnic - General
Subject:
Prejudices
Subject:
People & Places - United States - African-American
Subject:
Juvenile Fiction-People & Places - United States - African-A
Subject:
Juvenile Fiction : People & Places - United States - African
Subject:
Alabama
Subject:
Fiction
Subject:
Brothers and sisters
Subject:
Family - General
Subject:
Children's 9-12 - Fiction - General
Subject:
Afro-americans
Subject:
Family
Subject:
Audio Books-Children s
Subject:
Children s-Coretta Scott King Award Winners
Subject:
Children s-General
Subject:
Children s-Historical Fiction
Subject:
Children s-Newbery Award Winners
Subject:
Children s Middle Readers-Newbery Award Winners
Subject:
Children s Young Adult-Newbery Award Winners
Subject:
Children s Young Adult-Social Issue Fiction-Prejudice and Racism
Subject:
Children s Young Adult-Social Issue Fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
main_subject
Subject:
all_subjects
Publication Date:
1997
Binding:
ELECTRONIC
Language:
English
Pages:
224

Related Subjects

Children's » General
Children's » Reference » Family and Genealogy
Young Adult » Fiction » Social Issues » Prejudice and Racism

The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 224 pages Random House Children's Books - English 9780385729857 Reviews:
"Review" by , A 1996 Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Honor book, this comic tale, narrated by a 10-year-old boy, describes an eccentric family's unwitting trip South to visit Grandma during one of the stormiest times of the Civil Rights movement. PW's boxed, starred review called it "an exceptional first novel." Ages 10-up. — Publishers Weekly, 10/27/1997
"Review" by , Gr 6 Up Kenny's family is known in Flint, Michigan, as the Weird Watsons, for lots of good reasons. Younger sister Joetta has been led to believe she has to be overdressed in the winter because Southern folks (their mother is from Alabama) freeze solid and have to be picked up by the city garbage trucks. Kenny, the narrator, does well in school and tries to meet his hard-working parents' expectations. After a string of misdeeds, Mr. and Mrs. Watson decide that tough guy, older brother Byron must be removed from the bad influences of the city and his gang. They feel that his maternal grandmother and a different way of life in Birmingham might make him appreciate what he has. Since the story is set in 1963, the family must make careful preparations for their trip, for they cannot count on food or housing being available on the road once they cross into the South. The slow, sultry pace of life has a beneficial effect on all of the children until the fateful day when a local church is bombed, and Kenny runs to look for his sister. Written in a full-throated, hearty voice, this is a perfectly described piece of past imperfect. Curtis's ability to switch from fun and funky to pinpoint-accurate psychological imagery works unusually well. Although the horrific Birmingham Sunday throws Kenny into temporary withdrawl, this story is really about the strength of family love and endurance. Ribald humor, sly sibling digs, and a totally believable child's view of the world will make this book an instant hit. Cindy Darling Codell, Clark Middle School, Winchester, KY — School Library Journal, 10/01/1995
"Review" by , "...warmhearted and luxuriously padded with humor." — Michael Thorn, Literary Review, September 1997
"Synopsis" by , The ordinary interactions and everyday routines of the Watsons, an African American family living in Flint, Michigan, are drastically changed after they go to visit Grandma in Alabama in the summer of 1963.
"Synopsis" by , When Kenny Watson’s brother, Byron, gets to be too much trouble, the Watson family heads south to Birmingham to visit Grandma, the one person who can shape him up. And they happen to be in Birmingham when Grandma’s church is bombed.
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