Fantastic book. My ten year old and I read it together and laughed a lot and I think she got the message about what it might have been like to be a black person in 1963. It's no wonder the book has won awards. I would recommend it to anyone, but I think the choice to have it as a summer reading book when a child is about to enter 5th grade, gives them good perspective on things and may even make them curious to learn more about the Civil Rights movement.
The year is 1963, and self-important Byron Watson is the bane of his younger brother Kenny's existence. Constantly in trouble for one thing or another, from straightening his hair into a "conk" to lighting fires to freezing his lips to the mirror of the new family car, Byron finally pushes his family too far. Before this "official juvenile delinquent" can cut school or steal change one more time, Momma and Dad finally make good on their threat to send him to the deep south to spend the summer with his tiny, strict grandmother. Soon the whole family is packed up, ready to make the drive from Flint, Michigan, straight into one of the most chilling moments in America's history: the burning of the Sixteenth Avenue Baptist Church with four little girls inside.
Christopher Paul Curtis's alternately hilarious and deeply moving novel, winner of the Newbery Honor and the Coretta Scott King Honor, blends the fictional account of an African American family with the factual events of the violent summer of 1963. Fourth grader Kenny is an innocent and sincere narrator; his ingenuousness lends authenticity to the story and invites readers of all ages into his world, even as it changes before his eyes.
This is a wonderful book. I know it is rated for young adult reading, but is great reading for adult also. This is the story of a close knit family who want to go visit Grandma in Alabama, in 1968 it isn't the best time for them to be there. This is funny, there are lots of smiles in this book. Eye opening to see thru the eyes of the Watson family how peolple were treated in this era. You'll be glad you met this Watson family in this read. I am.
I have used the book many times for my classes. They love it. Kenny is a hoot and I laughed as hard the last time I read it as I did the first time.
A great read for 4-6 graders.
LeVar Burton is an excellent narrator.
This story is set in a cryptic time in America, where segregation down south is still pretty big. But where the Watson's live, life is normal for them. With their little family of 5- Mama, Daddy, Joey, Byron, and Kenny(main character) until Byron, who has been toeing the line, finally crosses it, and things change in a drastic way. Byron is a juvenile delinquent, and whenever he does anything bad, Mama and Daddy threaten to send him to Birmingham and live in the severe household with their grandma. Well, this time it turns out the meant it. But instead of just sending Byron, the whole family packs up in their new car, and drives down to Birmingham, Alabama. In Birmingham, and event happens which makes them oh so grateful for what they have.
I read this long ago in my teens or tweens and it moved me then, but reading it now as an adult I think I appreciate it even more. Ten-year-old Kenny Watson and his family live a regular life in Flint, Michigan. He's got a lazy eye but is smarter than average, his 13-year-old brother Byron acts like a juvenile delinquent sometimes, and his younger sister Joetta is an annoying snitch. When Momma finally gets fed up with Byron's antics, she decides that the whole family will make a trip to Birmingham, Alabama to visit her mother, where she plans to leave Byron for a few months to straighten him out. Little does she know that their family is traveling to keep an appointment with one of the darkest times in American history, the bombing of the Sixteenth Avenue Baptist Church during Sunday school on September 15, 1963 that killed 4 teenage girls, which remains an unsolved crime to this day.
I loved this book for the characters and the glimpse of life it showed you of the time, the trials a young boy goes through in school, having to contend with bullies and an overbearing yet at times unexpectedly protective older brother. While the story never shows the Watsons experiencing overt racism, it is evident from clues that it exists in the background. And Kenny undergoes a painful passage into adolescence when he is confronted with the bombing and its aftermath. Though some have faulted this book for not showing enough of the struggle for basic human rights that blacks went through at the time, for the target age group this is a good introduction to it. Through the eyes of Kenny, young adults are given a glimpse of the life of an African American family at the time of the civil rights movement, a pivotal point in America's history. This book deservedly won several awards, including the Newbery Honor, and is one of my favorites.
I enjoyed reading this book!! It was a quick read. This book touched upon a difficult and important subject in a unique way. It is written at a Grade 6 reading level, and is very good for kids as well as adults!!
Newberry, Corretta Scott King, ALA, honors and awards given to this book. Its a story about the Watsons of Flint Michigan, moving to Birmingham Al. in 1963 in one of the darkest moments of American history.