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The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963

Curtis, Christopher Paul

(Book - 1995)
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963
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.
Publisher: New York : Delacorte Press, 1995
ISBN: 0440414121
Branch Call Number: J CURTIS
Characteristics: 210 p. ; 22 cm


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Jan 23, 2015
  • LibrLdyMapleValley rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963 is the unforgettable first novel written by Christopher Paul Curtis. It is a Newbery Award Honor and Coretta Scott King Award Honor book which is quite a pile of kudos for a first novel. It's one of those books that will linger in your memory for years. It's funny, heartwarming and then in the final pages it is heart wrenching. With all this heavy duty honor and glory one might wonder if kids would appreciate the story and I can assure you they do. It's just one of those books that did everything exactly right.
What makes this book work are the characters. So let's meet the Watsons or, as the neighborhood people call them... the Weird Watsons. And they earned that name. There's our brilliant ten year old narrator Kenny who shares his insights on his family. There's Byron who "just turned 13 so he was officially a teenage juvenile delinquent..." These two create a lot of comic/tragic energy as the story progresses. Joetta is their baby sister and hapless witness to most of their disasters. Mom and Dad are quirky, creative, and often exasperated.
The chapter headings give you a good idea of what kind of trouble the boys tend to get into usually with Kenny as the victim. Chapter five for instance is "Nazi Parachutes Attack America and Get Shot Down over the Flint River by Captain Byron Watson and His Flamethrower of Death." It involves Byron, matches, a toilet and toy soldiers. Eventually Byron's juvenile delinquent ways force his parents to play hardball and he's taken to his Grandmother's house in Birmingham. That's when this family that we have fallen in love with gets wrapped up in one of the darkest events of the Civil Rights era. Because we are so firmly attached to the Watson's we walk into the events of 1963 and feel the intensity and pain just as they do. This sense of deep empathy is what makes this book stay firmly fixed in the minds of those who have read it. Read it and you will understand why Christopher Paul Curtis is one of the best authors writing for kids today.

Curtis does a wonderful job of touching upon serious issues, such as surviving an older brother, being picked on at school, and experiencing racism while entertaining the reader with his great sense of humor. I laughed out loud several times.Great combination of humor and exposure to an important part of American history.

Jul 16, 2014
  • Demigod4Ever rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Tots hilarious

Mar 15, 2014
  • obaidurrahman rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Read with my class really good book

I really liked this book when I read it but was confused about what happened after one of the kids starts to drowned and then sees his sister under water

Oct 05, 2013
  • natalie_g rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

The Weird Watsons star in this story of family and racial upheaval. The Watsons are like any other family in 1963 America. Byron, Joetta, and Kenny (our narrator) live in Flint, Michigan with their parents. The first half of the book paints them perfectly-from the middle child, Kenny, to the "juvenile delinquent", Byron. And after a series of behavior missteps by the eldest Watson, they embark on a trip South to visit Grandma Sands.
The Watson's Go to Birmingham is the perfect introduction to the Civil Rights era for children.

Nov 15, 2012
  • lakevilla_IDOL rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

The Watsons Go To Burmingham is a realistic fiction book with a very interesting story line. It's about an African American family that goes through hardships in Michigan. Once the Watsons' visit Grandma in Alabama, they see just how easy they have it in Michigan. This novel has a surprise ending that features the bond of siblings through tough times.

Jul 29, 2012
  • maddy3999 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

i love this book alot! ;)

Jul 25, 2012
  • kyle64star rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

this book is so good i love it just great love it!!!

Jun 18, 2012
  • t_natrix rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

One of my favorite books!

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Aug 08, 2014
  • red_elephant_652 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

red_elephant_652 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 9 and 12

bahadurs thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

Jul 29, 2012
  • blue_butterfly_805 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

blue_butterfly_805 thinks this title is suitable for All Ages

Jul 25, 2012
  • kyle64star rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

kyle64star thinks this title is suitable for All Ages

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Jun 10, 2012
  • blue_bird_951 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

blue_bird_951 thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

blue_butterfly_2818 thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over


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"Kenny's family is known in Flint, Michigan, as the Watsons, for lots of good reasons. Younger sister Joetta has been led to believe she has to be overdressed in the winter because Southern folks (their mother is from Alabama) freeze solid and have to be picked up by the city garbage trucks. Kenny, the narrator, does well in school and tries to meet his hardworking parents' expectations. Since the story is set in 1963, the family must make careful preparations for their trip, for they count on food or housing being available on the road once they cross into the South. the slow suspence of life has a beneficial effect on all of the children until the fateful day when a local church is bombed and Kenny runs in to look for his sister." (Novelist Review)


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Sep 23, 2013
  • mariednguyen rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Other: Release date September 20, 2013 (USA)


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Jul 25, 2012
  • kyle64star rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

then suddenly i cound see that there was someone else in the water and wool pooh was pulling me right toward them.

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