Bud, Not Buddy

by Christopher Paul Curtis (1999)

Bud, Not Buddy is the Newbery Award-winning follow-up to Christopher Paul Curtis’s acclaimed The Watsons Go to Birmingham — 1963. It tells the story of Bud (not Buddy), a ten-year-old African-American boy in search of his father in Depression-era America. Bud is a winning narrator as he peppers his account of his ups and downs with insights from his “Rules and Things for Having a Funner Life and Making a Better Liar Out of Yourself.” He tries to see through and outwit adults — all while still being a kid. (He reminds one a lot of Huckleberry Finn.)

Author Christopher Paul Curtis makes Bud a fine guide to the milieu of 1930s America in Flint and Grand Rapids, Michigan. Bud spends the night in a Hooverville as part of his quest, seeing that despair up close. He also finds his way to a touring jazz band – The Dusky Devastators of the Depression –  made up of talented musicians and a “vocal stylist” who sees the best in Bud. Bud, Not Buddy thus becomes a rich tour of the tastes and sounds of this era in American history.

Bud also becomes our guide to unexpected lessons about those lost and found in our hearts. While he has suffered much loss, his perseverance and savvy lead him through the pain to a place where his body and soul are filled and he is welcomed home at last.