The Watsons Go to Birmingham — 1963

by Christopher Paul Curtis

In an impressive literary debut, Christopher Paul Curtis recounts events in the life... read more

In an impressive literary debut, Christopher Paul Curtis recounts events in the life a 10-year-old Kenny Watson, the middle child in a middle-class African-American family living in Flint, Michigan, in 1963. A smart, sensitive boy, Kenny refers to his family as the "Weird Watsons," because each member stands out as an individual when Kenny just wants to blend in with the crowd. Much of their family life revolves around 13-year-old Byron who is a self-confident, sarcastic, rebellious adolescent. When Dad and Momma decide that Byron needs to spend some time down home with relatives in Birmingham, the whole family goes along to deliver Byron into Grandma's hands. During their brief stay in Birmingham, tragedy strikes when a bomb explodes at Grandma Sands' church one Suday morning, killing four little girls, an experience that deeply affects Kenny. On a symbolic level this funny, provocative novel mirrors events in the life of our nation in 1963, a year when the United States, like Kenny, lost its innocence as hope turned to cynicism. Honor Book, 1995 CCBC Coretta Scott King Award Discussion: Writing (Ages 10-14)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 1995

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