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The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963 by…

The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963

by Christopher Paul Curtis

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The Watsons Go To Birmingham - 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
210 pages


This is a young adult novel taking place in 1963 and told from the point of view of African-American, 10 year old Kenny as him and his family embark on a road trip to Alabama…in 1963, I very tumultuous time in the South.

I had never heard of this novel but after so research it seems somewhat popular within the school system and younger adults and I can see why. I really enjoyed this book. In some parts it was very humorous and light-hearted but it hit on some very difficult situations happening in relation to race in the 60s. Since it is from the point of view from a child, I think it makes it easier for children to understand those difficult concepts – race, violence, life-changing events. I thought the characters were really well written. Kenny may have been the narrator but I found that his older brother, Byron, shined through for me the most. A great book, even for an adult, and a quick read with a strong message. ( )
  UberButter | Feb 9, 2016 |
Reread this after many years and after seeing the Hallmark movie which portrayed events I'd forgotten (Grandma Sands' special friend Mr. Robert, for one). I'd also forgotten the humorous warmth of the Weird Watsons' portrayal and the love in the family that helps Kenny emerge from the trauma of witnessing the Birmingham bombing. ( )
  Salsabrarian | Feb 2, 2016 |
Very good YA book. I wish there had been a bit more flow between the chapters to finish some of the stories, but it almost reads like a journal. The treatment of the church bombing was a little fast for me, but I loved the idea of creating a relationship between the reader and the characters beforehand. I wish, too, the book had not limited negative treatment of blacks to the south, but showed it in other areas of the country. All in all, it was an enjoyable read. ( )
  CarmenMilligan | Jan 18, 2016 |
Ten-year-old Kenny Watson narrates this story about his family in Flint, Michigan, beginning in early 1963. Kenny is often the brunt of older brother Byron's jokes as well as the kindly big brother to kindergarten-aged Joette. After Byron, at aged 13, begins to fall in with the wrong crowd and exhibits some dangerously delinquent behavior the Watson's decide to drive to Birmingham, Alabama, to let Byron stay with his strict grandmother and to see what the South is like for black people. The comical antics of the 3 Watson children in the first 2/3 of the book quickly turn serious as the Watsons find themselves in the middle of one of the ugliest chapters in American history, the bombing of the Sixteenth Avenue Baptist Church in Birmingham and the subsequent deaths of 4 precious young girls.

I enjoyed this book very much and it was interesting to read how the Watson children were affected by the attitude shown to blacks in the South compared to how they were treated in the North. Just the planning of the driving trip itself posed problems for the family as they knew they would not find welcoming hotel rooms as they drove further south from Michigan. The book was so much more than a look at early civil rights. It is a story of 3 bright children, 2 loving parents and the fun and sometimes downright silly times they share. It's a great YA read for any age.
( )
  Ellen_R | Jan 15, 2016 |
From the book jacket: Enter the hilarious world of ten-year-old Kenny and his family, the Weird Watsons of Flint, Michigan. There’s Momma, Dad, little sister Joetta, and brother Byron, who’s thirteen and an “official juvenile delinquent.” When Momma and Dad decide it’s time for a visit to Grandma, the Watsons set out on a trip like no other. They’re heading south to Birmingham, Alabama, toward one of the darkest moments in America’s history.

My Reactions
I love the way Curtis writes. I totally believe in Kenny as a narrator, and was charmed by his irrepressible spirit, his love of reading, his efforts to hang with his brother and protect his little sister.

I am all too familiar with the events in Birmingham during this period in America’s history, so that plot twist was not a surprise. For me, it served to heighten the suspense of the novel. And the horrific events were no less horrific for my knowing what was coming. Children who are not so aware of those happenings may not have that same sense of suspense from the beginning, but I think they will definitely feel the impact of the story.
( )
  BookConcierge | Jan 13, 2016 |
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In memory of
Addie Mae Collins
Born 4/18/49, died 9/15/63
Denise McNair
Born 11/17/51, died 9/15/63
Carole Robertson
Born 4/24/49, died 9/15/63
Cynthia Wesley
Born 4/30/49, died 9/15/63
the toll for one day in one city
This book is dedicated to my parents, Dr. Herman and Leslie Lewis Curtis, who have given their children both roots and wings and encouraged us to soar; my sister, Cydney Eleanor Curtis, who has been unfailingly supportive, kind and herself; and above all to my wife, Kaysandra Anne Sookram Curtis, who has provided a warmth and love that have allowed me to laugh, to grow and, most importantly, to dream.
First words
It was one of those super-duper-cold Saturdays.
"Some of the time I wondered if something really was wrong with me. Byron had just told me that someone had dropped a bomb on Joey's church, hadn't he? If that was true why was I only thinking about how much trouble By was going to be in when they heard how loud he'd slammed the screen door, and asking myself why hadn't he put on his shoes? His socks wouldn't last two minutes on the Alabama mud."
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A family story, both comic and moving, touches on the frightening times of the early civil rights movement.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 044022800X, Mass Market Paperback)

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. Curtis is also the acclaimed author of Bud, Not Buddy, winner of the Newbery Medal. (Ages 9 to 12) --Emilie Coulter

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:20 -0400)

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The ordinary interactions and everyday routines of the Watsons, an African American family living in Flint, Michigan, are drastically changed after they go to visit Grandma in Alabama in the summer of 1963.

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