Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
I just finished reading Bud, not Buddy. What a gem of a story….which is not a surprise. Bud, not Buddy won the 2000 Newberry Award for Excellence in American's Children's Literature. The story, written for readers as young as eight, is about a boy named Bud who lives in a Michigan orphanage in the mid 1930's. Unfortunately, Bud has difficulties in yet another foster home and is forced to go "on the lam." While on the run, Bud meets up with kind friends and strangers that unknowingly help him survive, travel to and get acquainted with his new family. Along the way, Bud suffers the difficulties of being parentless and penniless in the Great Depression—despite the fact that he is never, ever without his suitcase containing precious items that no one else would consider valuable. We get to know about the orphanage, a soup kitchen, a Hooverville, attempting to hop a train and Jazz bands with outlandish names. I adore Bud's description of the library and librarians that help him in all kinds of ways as he tries to figure out his next moves. The description of the smells and feels of the library put me right back into the little hometown library that I grew up with.
Bud, not Buddy is such a celebrated book that there are lots of places to read about the story and how to make meaning of it with young people. I like how Common Sense Media rates books and movies. Their description of the book was helpful to me. http://www.commonsensemedia.org/ .
If I were teaching with this book and could focus on any questions I wanted I would ask readers to figure out what Bud has and what Bud doesn't have at various points in the story. During the 1930s and today there is much made of those who "have" and those who "don't have". What might people "have" in abundance even if they lack material possessions? How is 1930 the same or different from the times we live in?
The author of Bud, not Buddy, Christopher Paul Curtis
has written several more critically acclaimed books. I will also read The Watson's Go to Birmingham and Elijah of Buxton over the summer.