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 orphan boy's search for home.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 11 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 49 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

When one door closes, another opens. Sometimes home is where you find it. No matter what life throws at you, you've got to make the most of it.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Bud is determined and resilient, though he tells a lot of lies in order to survive. His foster family is cruel, but once he runs away, people me meets on his journey are kind and helpful. His alleged father, Herman E. Calloway, is grouchy, but his jazz band members -- Steady Eddie, Mr. Jimmy, Doug the Thug, Doo-Doo Bug Cross, Dirty Deed Breed, and Miss Thomas -- make Bud feel welcome and at home. Bud's late mother remains a positive influence in his life.


Bud's foster brother beats him up. His foster parents lock him up overnight in a shed, where he's stung by a nest of hornets.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byhellohi23 April 29, 2021

goodd bok

Hi. I like book. Very goodd. Yes. Interesting. hello. bye. wait. hi.
Adult Written byAlecc34567 February 19, 2021

God buk

veri god buk wud red agan veri good
Teen, 16 years old Written byChristianthegreat January 14, 2019
Teen, 13 years old Written byOOFOOFOOFOOF November 15, 2018


I really enjoyed reading the book as a kid. I think it should be viewed similarly to 10+ than 9+, with adults and kids arguing over topics. The first five cha... 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 characters who live in a different time from your own?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love stories of African American experience

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Top advice and articles

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

See how we rate

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

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate