There are some really good, in-depth reviews by fellow members so I'll be brief about the summary and share more why I enjoyed the story. 10 year-old, Bud is orphaned at six. We're not sure how his mother died, but according to Bud it was sudden and without pain. Bud and his mother were very close. She read to him and was very attentive to her son. She did her best to prepare Bud for the world, but what she wouldn't share was who his father was. She did leave clues and after being mistreated by his last foster family, Bud takes off to find his dad.
What I like about Curtis' work is his ability to make history accessible through personal stories of very young characters. While the story was set in the Great Depression, I don't think Curtis' primary goal was to teach history. Rather, I think his aim was to illustrate the connection between history at-large and our personal histories. It's through relationships that history becomes relevant in Curtis' work.
I think Curtis is adept at creating authentic voice for his young characters. Bud speaks with some distinct grammar errors that a boy his age would make. His focus on his immediate needs and his belief that he can do something like find his father with little information and very limited resources speaks to the resiliency and naviete of youth. The author's sense of humor combined with the perceptions of the world as seen through the experience of the young render his stories exceedingly accessible and memorable.
My daughter and niece both read the book and neither were too articulate about the details, but they got the gist of what was going on, and I think they learned something. What's interesting to me are the differences in perception of the student and adult readers of the same book. They both told me enough that I wanted to read it, and they both didn't provide the kind of details that made me laugh as an adult reading a young boy's account of his adventure. I think adults perceive nuances students miss or overlook, but both audiences find something enjoyable in Curtis' work. This is my second novel by the author and I look forward to reading more by him
Absolutely deserving of all its many awards (including the Newbery), this is a wonderful story of a 10-year old boy who runs away from a foster home and sets out to find his father. It is 1936 in Flint, Michigan, and times are hard for everyone, but particularly for blacks. Told in Bud's poignant voice and full of his hard-earned young wisdom, this snapshot of life during the Depression is a must-read for all young people.
Cheryl T. reviewed Bud, Not Buddy (Coretta Scott King Author Award Winner) on
I loved this book! I am a teacher and I assigned it to my students to read for summer reading. It's a great story and it also discusses racial inequalities in the south of the past. I think kids of grades 6-8 would enjoy this book.
Jennifer S. reviewed Bud, Not Buddy (Coretta Scott King Author Award Winner) on
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Bud is such a smart and captivating character and his view of the things happening around him and the choices he makes make him both extremely endearing and extremely frustrating. (I say frustrating because, as an adult, I want to jump in the book and protect him since some of his choices could potentially be very dangerous.) I love this book and have already shared it with a few friends. It's a quick, fun, entertaining read.
This book has won the "Coretta Scott King Award", and it certainly deserves it as well as many others. This story would make a wonderful T.V. play or movie. I got the book thinking it would be something my elementary aged grandkids could read. But I decided to read it myself first. That's when I discovered that the material is probably better suited to older readers. I just fell in love with the character, "Bud, not Buddy". He's such a little trooper and so brave in the face of all he has to confront in life. And through it all he's so funny with his fear of closet monsters and rules to live by. It's an easy read and it won't be time wasted.
A charming, positive story. The tale is about a boy whose mother dies and he finds himself in a home for orphans. The boy goes from home to home when people take him only for the money they are given by the state. The author describes his last home and the boy's escape from a locked shed. He believes he has a father somewhere who is a member of a band. The tale follows Bud in his search for his father who turns out to be his grandfather. It's a positive read about the role that music played during the Depression and how an orphan boy finds a home and people who love him.
Newbery Medal winner 2000.
"It's funny how ideas are, in a lot of ways they're just like seeds. Both of them start real, real small and then... woop, zoop, sloop... before you can say Jack Robinson, they've gone and grown a lot bigger than you ever thought they could." So figures scrappy 10-year-old philosopher Bud--"not Buddy"--Caldwell, an orphan on the run from abusive foster homes and Hoovervilles in 1930s Michigan. And the idea that's planted itself in his head is that Herman E. Calloway, standup-bass player for the Dusky Devastators of the Depression, is his father.
Guided only by a flier for one of Calloway's shows--a small, blue poster that had mysteriously upset his mother shortly before she died--Bud sets off to track down his supposed dad, a man he's never laid eyes on. And, being 10, Bud-not-Buddy gets into all sorts of trouble along the way, barely escaping a monster-infested woodshed, stealing a vampire's car, and even getting tricked into "busting slob with a real live girl." Christopher Paul Curtis, author of The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963, once again exhibits his skill for capturing the language and feel of an era and creates an authentic, touching, often hilarious voice in little Bud. (Ages 8 to 12)
It's 1936 in Flint, Michigan, and the Depression is in full swing. People don't have the most basic of necessities, so it's not all that surprising that children keep turning up on the doorsteps of orphanages. Ten-year-old Bud (don't make the mistake of calling him Buddy!) has been in the orphanage for a while, so he's a pro. He's also tired of going to new foster homes to be used as a servant and to be treated badly.
When he's beaten up by the spoiled son of the latest couple to take him in and then locked in a shed and attacked by a nest of angry hornets, he's had enough. He manages to get out of the shed and into the house where he finds his battered and beloved cardboard suitcase-- and then he's on the road to Grand Rapids. You see, from the important things his mother kept, he's figured out whom his father is, and that man is a musician who has his own club. All Bud has to do is make it to Grand Rapids.
Bud, Not Buddy is the first novel to receive both the Coretta Scott King Award and the Newbery Medal. Although the grim conditions of the Depression and the harshness of Bud's circumstances as both an orphan and an African-American child are depicted honestly, Curtis surrounds the unpleasant facts in a spirit of hope and optimism. Bud can be in the midst of a very serious situation and still have the power to make a reader smile with his habit of referring to "human beans" or mopping a floor and pretending he's reenacting the action of "Twenty Thousand Leaks Under the Sea." (I have to admit that, even though I have a great tolerance for gore and violence, it was nice to read something that contained neither. A discerning reader can easily recognize the ugly bits and shudder, but the focus never moves from that little boy.)
At the end of the book, Curtis admits that two of the characters were based on his own grandfathers-- and that most of what he learned about the Depression came from research and books. When he was young and the old folks started talking, he made a bee-line in the opposite direction because he didn't want to hear those "boring tall tales."
Bud, Not Buddy is a wonderful book, filled with love, laughter and truth-- and the most important truth of all may be the very last paragraph of Christopher Paul Curtis's book:
"Be smarter than I was: Go talk to Grandma and Grandpa, Mom and Dad and other relatives and friends. Discover and remember what they have to say about what they learned growing up. By keeping their stories alive you make them, and yourself, immortal."