Christopher Paul Curtis (born May 10, 1953) is an American children's author and a Newbery Medal winner who wrote 1963 and the critically acclaimed Bud, Not Buddy. Bud, Not Buddy is the first novel to receive both the Coretta Scott King Award and the Newbery Medal. His newest book, entitled Elijah of Buxton (winner of the Scott O'Dell Historical Fiction Award, the Coretta Scott King Award, and a Newbery Honor) is set in a free Black community in Ontario that was founded in 1849 by runaway slaves.
Curtis was born in Flint, Michigan on May 10, 1953 to Dr. Herman Elmer Curtis, a chiropodist, and Leslie Jane Curtis, an educator. The city of Flint plays an important role in many of Curtis's books. One such example is Bucking the Sarge, which is about a fifteen year old boy named Luther T. Ferrel, who is in a running battle with his slum-lord mother. Curtis is an alumnus of the University of Michigan-Flint.
Curtis is the father of two children, Steven, an ensign in the United States Navy, and Cydney, a college student and accomplished pianist. His third child is expected to make an appearance in 2011. Christopher modeled characters in Bud, Not Buddy after his two grandfathers...Earl “Lefty” Lewis, a Negro league baseball pitcher, and 1930s bandleader Herman E. Curtis, Sr., of Herman Curtis and the Dusky Devastators of the Depression.
Curtis moved to Detroit, Michigan in January,.2000
Curtis is a product of the Flint Public Schools system. He attended Dewey Elementary, Clark Elementary, Pierce Elementary (in the Academically Gifted Program),Whittier Junior High School, McKinley Junior High School, (where, in 1967 he became the first African-American student to be elected to student council in the school's 32 year history), and Flint Southwestern High School. Graduating from the University of Michigan-Flint in 1999, he received his bachelor's degree at the same ceremony where he was the commencement speaker.
In 2009 Curtis received a Doctor of Laws Honoris Causa from the University of Windsor in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.
The summer after graduating from high school Curtis became a member of a Lansing, Michigan based theatrical/musical group called Suitcase Theatre. The group was directed by Powell Lindsay and performed the works of Langston Hughes. Curtis toured and performed with the group in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, France, England, Canada, and the United States.
Curtis spent his first 13 years after high school on the assembly line of Flint’s historic Fisher Body Plant #1. His job entailed hanging car doors on Electra 225s and LeSabres, which, he later claimed, left him with an aversion to getting into large cars, particularly Buicks. After quitting Fisher Body Curtis took a series of low-paying jobs. He worked as a groundskeeper at Stonegate Manor housing cooperative in Flint, Flint campaign co-manager for United States senator Donald Reigle, customer service representative for Mich Con in Detroit, temporary worker for Manpower in Detroit, and warehouse clerk for Automated Data Processing in Allen Park, Michigan. Curtis took a year off of work to write his first novel, The Watsons Go To Birmingham...1963. He wrote the novel in longhand in the Windsor Public Library and later his son, Steven, became his first editor and typed the story on the computer for him.
Curtis has been a full-time author and lecturer/speaker since 1998.
In 2009-2010 Curtis spent two semesters at the University of Michigan-Flint as the Myron and Margaret Winegarden Visiting Professor.
1963 - When Kenny's 13-year-old brother, Byron, gets to be too much trouble, the Watsons head from Flint, Michigan to Birmingham, Alabama to visit Grandma Sands, the one person who can shape Byron up. But the events that shake Birmingham in the September of 1963 will change Kenny's life forever. Books by Christopher Paul Curtis
Bud, Not Buddy - It's 1936, in Flint, Michigan. Times may be hard, and ten-year-old Bud may be a motherless boy on the run, but Bud's got a few things going for him.
Bucking the Sarge - Luther T. Farrell has got to get out of Flint, Michigan. He just needs to escape the evil empire of the local slumlord, his mother.
Mr. Chickee's Messy Mission - When Russell's dog, Rodney Rodent, jumps into a mural to chase a demonic-looking gnome and disappears, the Flint Future Detectives are on the case.
Mr. Chickee's Funny Money - Mr. Chickee, the genial blind man in the neighborhood, gives 9-year-old Steven a mysterious bill with 15 zeros on it and the image of a familiar but startling face.
Elijah of Buxton - Eleven-year-old Elijah is the first child born into freedom in Buxton, Canada West (now Ontario), a settlement of runaway slaves just over the border from Detroit. He’s best known in his hometown as the boy who made a memorable impression on Frederick Douglass. But things change when a former slave steals money from Elijah’s friend, who has been saving to buy his family out of captivity in the South. Elijah embarks on a dangerous journey to America in pursuit of the thief, and he discovers firsthand the unimaginable horrors of the life his parents fled—a life from which he’ll always be free, if he can find the courage to get back home. Elijah of Buxton : Books
Curtis's next book is entitled The Mighty Miss Malone and is set in depression-era Gary, Indiana, and Flint, Michigan. The work is a spin-off from Bud, Not Buddy and is narrated by 12 year old Deza Malone.
Curtis has also written the introductions for the Aladdin Classics version of Harriet Beecher Stowe's, Uncle Tom's Cabin, and the Modern Library edition of Mark Twain's, The Prince And The Pauper.
Newbery Honor Book.Coretta Scott King Honor Book.A Publisher's Weekly Best Book Of The Year.A New York Times Best Book Of The Year.A California Young Reader Medal Winner.A Maine Student Book Award Winner.An American Library Association (ALA) Best Book For Young Adults.An ALA Notable Children's Book.A Horn Book Fanfare.A Texas Lone Star Reading List Title.A Bank Street College Best Book Of The Year.A Massachusetts Children's Book Award Winner.A NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book.A New Mexico Land Of Enchantment Book Award Winner.An Arkansas Charlie May Simon Children's Book Award Winner.A Society of Children's Book Writers and illustrators Golden Kite Award Winner.The New York Times' Top One Hundred Books Of The Year, 1996. The only book for young readers to be so honored.
BUD, NOT BUDDY.
A Newbery Medal Winner. (First African-American man to win the award.)A Coretta Scott KIng Author Award Winner.A School Library Journal Best Book Of The Year.An International Readers Association (IRA) Children's Book Award For Older Readers.A NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book.A Publisher's Weekly Best Book Of The Year.An ALA Best Book For Young Adults.An ALA Notable Children's Book.A New York Times Notable Book.A Hawaii Nene Award Winner.A Kentucky Bluegrass Award Winner.A Kansas William White Award Winner.A Tennessee Volunteer State Award Winner.A South Dakota Prairie Pasque Award Winner.A Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Award Winner.A Vermont Dorothy Canfield Fisher Book Award Winner.A SCBWI Golden Kite Award Winner.A Great Lakes Booksellers Association Children's Chapter Book Award Winner.
MR. CHICKEE'S FUNNY MONEY
A Parent's Choice Gold Award Winner.
BUCKING THE SARGE
An ALA Best Books For Young Adults.An ALA Notable Children's Book.A Great Lakes Booksellers Association Children's Chapter Book Award.A Booklist Children's Editors Choice Award.A USA Today Best Young Adult Book.A SCBWI Golden Kite Award For Fiction Honor Book.A School Library Journal Best Book Of The Year.A Texas Tayhas High School Reading List Title.A Publisher's Weekly Best Children's Book Of The Year.
ELIJAH OF BUXTON
A Newbery Honor Book. Coretta Scott King Award Winner. A School Library Journal Best Book. Parent's Choice Gold Award Winner. IRA Notable Book For A Global Society. A Publisher's Weekly Best Book. Booklist Editor's Choiice. Scott O'Dell Award Winner. Red Maple Award Nominee. A Kirkus Best Book. A Horn Book Fanfare Book. NAACP Image Award Nominee. A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book. A Booklinks Lasting Connections Book. TD Canada Children's Award Winner. Governor General's Award Children's Text Finalist. Canadian Library Association Book Of The Year. NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book For Young People. White Ravens by the International Youth Library of 2008, Germany Award. Geoffrey Bilson Award For Historical Fiction For Young People Award Winner. Jane Addams Peace Association of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom Book for Older Children Honor Award. Great Lakes Book Sellers Association's Children's Chapter Book Award.
Christopher Paul Curtis appeared on The Tavis Smiley Show on PBS to promote his book Bucking the Sarge. The show appeared on January 11, 2005.
He also appeared on The Today Show Book Club to answer questions about his book with Al Roker in 2007.
Curtis won the 2009 Anne V. Zarrow Award for Young Readers' Literature, which honors a "nationally acclaimed author who has made a significant contribution to the field of literature and young adults".