Bud, Not Buddy

Book review by
Stephany Aulenback, Common Sense Media
Bud, Not Buddy Book Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Well-crafted tale of an orphan's search for home.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 9 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 48 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

A touching and thoughtful examination of one young man's search for home.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Bud tells a lot of lies in order to survive.


Bud's foster brother beats him up. His foster parents lock him up overnight in a shed, where he is stung by a nest of hornets. And when Bud runs away, he must fend for himself.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Bud, Not Buddy is a Newbery Medal-winning novel by Christopher Paul Curtis is a well-crafted, funny tale of an orphan's poignant search for a home that will will keep readers turning the page. Bud runs away from his abusive foster family, and there are frank descriptions of the horrors of the Great Depression. Written in a strong, compelling voice, it beautifully evokes what life was like for African Americans, especially musicians, in Michigan during the Depression.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMissPiggy November 13, 2019

So Sad, So Funny

Bud, Not Buddy is a hilarious, heartbreaking tale of a motherless boy finding home. He is beat up by a horrible foster brother, locked in a shed, and attacked b... Continue reading
Parent of a 3, 5, and 9-year-old Written byChristine V. August 16, 2018
Teen, 14 years old Written bynerdgirl96 January 16, 2011

definitly deserves its awards

I love this book! It has some sad parts but still manages to be funny some of the time. I really like Bud; he has such an interesting perspective on life. I enj... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old May 12, 2020


Not the best book I've ever read I certainly read 10 times better other books I meant 10 times whatever it said red x i a. I don't know but I think 11... Continue reading

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 charatcers who lived i a differnt time. 

Book details

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For kids who love stories of African-American experience

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