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The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963
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About the Author

Christopher Paul Curtis won the Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King Award for his bestselling second novel, Bud, Not Buddy. His first novel, The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963, was also singled out for many awards, and has been a bestseller in hardcover and paperback. His most recent novels for Random House include The Mighty Miss Malone, Mr. Chickee's Messy Mission, Mr. Chickee's Funny Money, and Bucking the Sarge.

Christopher Paul Curtis grew up in Flint, Michigan. After high school he began working on the assembly line at the Fisher Body Plant No. 1 while attending the Flint branch of the University of Michigan. He is now a full-time writer, and lives with his family in Windsor, Ontario.

Reviews

Gr 6 Up‘Kenny's family is known in Flint, Michigan, as the Weird Watsons, for lots of good reasons. Younger sister Joetta has been led to believe she has to be overdressed in the winter because Southern folks (their mother is from Alabama) freeze solid and have to be picked up by the city garbage trucks. Kenny, the narrator, does well in school and tries to meet his hard-working parents' expectations. After a string of misdeeds, Mr. and Mrs. Watson decide that tough guy, older brother Byron must be removed from the bad influences of the city and his gang. They feel that his maternal grandmother and a different way of life in Birmingham might make him appreciate what he has. Since the story is set in 1963, the family must make careful preparations for their trip, for they cannot count on food or housing being available on the road once they cross into the South. The slow, sultry pace of life has a beneficial effect on all of the children until the fateful day when a local church is bombed, and Kenny runs to look for his sister. Written in a full-throated, hearty voice, this is a perfectly described piece of past imperfect. Curtis's ability to switch from fun and funky to pinpoint-accurate psychological imagery works unusually well. Although the horrific Birmingham Sunday throws Kenny into temporary withdrawl, this story is really about the strength of family love and endurance. Ribald humor, sly sibling digs, and a totally believable child's view of the world will make this book an instant hit.‘Cindy Darling Codell, Clark Middle School, Winchester, KY

A 1996 Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Honor book, this comic tale, narrated by a 10-year-old boy, describes an eccentric family's unwitting trip South to visit Grandma‘during one of the stormiest times of the Civil Rights movement. PW's boxed, starred review called it "an exceptional first novel." Ages 10-up. (Oct.)

AN ALA TOP TEN BEST BOOK
AN ALA NOTABLE CHILDREN'S BOOK
AN IRA YOUNG ADULT'S CHOICE
A NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW BEST BOOK
NAMED TO MULTIPLE STATE AWARD LISTS


"This is a book that changes lives. It certainly changed mine." --Kate DiCamillo, two-time Newbery Medalist

"I identify with so much in Christopher Paul Curtis's engrossing classic, The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963." --David Barclay Moore, winner of the Coretta Scott King John Steptoe Award for New Talent

"An exceptional first novel."-Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Superb . . . a warmly memorable evocation of an African American family." -The Horn Book Magazine, starred review

"Ribald humor . . . and a totally believable child's view of the world will make this book an instant hit."-School Library Journal, starred review

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