A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Bud, Not Buddy, by Christopher Paul Curtis (The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963), won the Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King Author Award. It's a well-crafted, funny tale of an orphan's poignant search for a home that will keep readers turning the page. Bud, a 10-year-old African American boy, runs away from his abusive foster family in Flint, Michigan, where his foster brother beat him up and his foster parents locked him up overnight in a shed, where he was stung by a nest of hornets. He embarks on a journey to find his father that leads him to Grand Rapids. Along the way, he endures fear, and there are frank descriptions of the horrors of the Great Depression of the 1930s. Written in a strong, compelling voice, Bud, Not Buddy beautifully evokes what life was like for African Americans, especially musicians, in Michigan during the Depression.
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What's the story?
Bud has run away from his abusive foster family. He's sleeping outside and can't find enough to eat. There's nothing left to do but go find Herman E. Calloway, the man whose picture used to make Momma upset. That man has got to be Bud's father! Orphaned Bud, not Buddy, Caldwell carries a ratty suitcase full of all his possessions wherever he goes. There's the picture of his Momma as a little girl. There's Momma's old pouch, full of smooth rocks with strange coded messages written on them. But the most important thing is a flyer advertising "Herman E. Calloway and the Dusky Devastators of the Depression."
Sure that this Herman E. Calloway is his father, Bud sets out to find him. But when Calloway turns out to be a grumpy old man, Miss Thomas, the Dusky Devastator's kind "vocal stylist," convinces him to give the 10-year-old a place to stay. Bud moves into the big house known as Grand Calloway Station and, with the help of Momma's rocks, soon discovers how he is related to Herman E. Calloway.
Is it any good?
Young Bud tells his story in BUD, NOT BUDDY in his own lively voice, making his character practically leap off the page. At times tough, sad, resilient, and funny, 10-year-old Bud is completely irresistible. His personality, coupled with the fast pace of the story, captures the attention of young readers on the first page and keeps them riveted right through to the end.
Bud keeps meeting up with good people who are willing to share what little they have, and to help Bud as much as they can. It is this portrayal of people at their best when circumstances are at their worst that ultimately makes the story a hopeful and heartwarming one.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Bud, Not Buddy shows hope in the face of adversity. How does Bud manage to keep going?
Bud's mother told him when one door closes, another opens. Do you see this happening for Bud? Has that happened in your life?
Do you like historical fiction? What's the appeal of reading about characters who live in a different time from your own?
- Author: Christopher Paul Curtis
- Genre: Family Life
- Topics: Great Boy Role Models, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Random House
- Publication date: January 1, 1999
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 9 - 12
- Number of pages: 243
- Awards: Coretta Scott King Medal and Honors, Newbery Medal and Honors
- Last updated: June 24, 2020
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For kids who love stories of African American experience
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