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Watsons Go to Birmingham
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.
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.
Factory worker, campaign worker, maintenance man, customer service representative, warehouse clerk, purchasing clerk
Playing basketball, collecting old record albums, writing
Mexican, Indian, West Indian
Anything by Toni Morrison, Kurt Vonnegut, and Zora Neale Hurston
From the Hardcover edition.
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