Bud, Not Buddy Book Poster Image

Bud, Not Buddy

Well-crafted tale of an orphan's search for home.
Popular with kidsParents recommend

What parents need to know

Positive messages

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

Positive role models

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.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this well-crafted and funny tale of an orphan's poignant search for a home will keep readers turning the page. Parents should know that Bud runs away from his abusive foster family. There are frank descriptions of the horrors of the Depression. Written in a strong, compelling voice, it beautifully evokes life for African Americans, especially musicians, in Michigan during the Depression.

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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about hope in the face of adversity.

  • How does Bud manage to keep going?

  • His mother told him when one door closes, another opens.

  • Do you see this happening for Bud?

  • Has that happened in your life?

Book details

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
Number of pages:243
Publisher's recommended age(s):9 - 12
Awards:Coretta Scott King Medal and Honors, Newbery Medal and Honors

This review of Bud, Not Buddy was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Great handpicked alternatives

Top advice and articles

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

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 enjoyed Bud Caldwell's Rules and Things for Having a Funner Life and Making a Better Liar Out of Yourself. One thing I really like about Christopher Paul Curtis is that he writes about African-Americans in the North, who you don't hear as much about as those in the South.
What other families should know
Educational value
Teen, 13 years old Written byassaneopare April 27, 2009
Teen, 17 years old Written byBurninHot_1311 April 9, 2008