Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

Bud Not Buddy. By Christopher Paul Curtis. Random House, 1999.  236 pages. $6.99

Plot: There are a few clear memories Bud has of his mother and one is about his name, “Bud is your name and don’t you ever let anyone call you anything outside of that either…Especially don’t you let anyone call you buddy…I would have added that dy onto the end of your name if I intended for it to be there…Your name is Bud, period.”  So, when people ask him his name, Bud’s reponse is, “Bud, not Buddy.”  Bud’s mother died when he was six; that was four years ago.  And, as far as he knows, he’s never met his father.  But, he has some clues as to who and where his father is and he’s determined to find him.  Living first in an orphanage and then in a foster home with an unpleasant family, Bud runs away to strike out on his own in search of the man he believes to be his father: Herman E. Calloway.  Bud found Herman’s name on a set of flyers his mother had kept that promoted Herman E. Calloway and his famous band, the Dusky Devastators of the Depression.  It’s 1936, in the heart of the Great Depression; Bud is brave, clever, creative, and determined to follow his journey to the end.  What will he learn along the way?  Will he find his father?

Review: Charming and thoughtful, it’s no wonder Bud, Not Buddy won multiple book awards.  The story is engaging and brings the reader back in time.  Bud’s authentic voice rings true, complete with colloquial expressions and sincere emotions.  Easy to read and hard to put down, the novel touches on the complex topics of racism and poverty, giving the reader a glimpse into what life was like for an African American boy in the mid-1930’s.  Touching, amusing, heartwarming, and full of hope and optimism, Bud, Not Buddy is a great choice for reluctant and avid readers alike.

Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Adventure

Reading/Interest Level: 8-12 years

Available in: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, Audiobook

ISBN: 978-0553494105

Similar Books: Maniac McGee, The Watsons go to Birmingham — 1963

Subjects: the Great Depression, poverty, racism, homelessness, death of a parent

Selected Awards: 2000 Coretta Scott King Award, 2000 Newberry Medal Winner, 1999 School Library Journal best Books of the Year

Character Names

Bud (not Buddy) Caldwell: main character, 10-year-old whose mother died when he was 6, does not know where his father is, street-wise, sweet, clever, determined

The Amos Family: foster family that takes Bud in, 12-year-old Todd Amos tortures Bud incessantly and his mother and father believe all of his lies that Bud instigates their scuffles, ultimately the family locks Bud in a shed, from where he escapes and runs away

Lefty Lewis: gives Bud a ride from Flint to Grand Rapids, Michigan so he can search for his father, railroad porter involved in union organizing

Herman E. Calloway: the man Bud is in search of, leader of a famous band

Miss Thomas: singer in Herman Calloway’s band, befriends and cares for Bud

Members of the Dusky Devastators of the Depression: take Bud in, look out for him, give him advice, become his friends

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