Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Watsons go to Birmingham - 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis

The Watsons, Pa and Momma, Byron, 13 and still in 6th grade, Kenny, 10 and in 4th grade, and Joetta, 5 and in kindergarten are an African American family living in Flint, Michigan.  Byron, or By, and his friend Buphead have both been left back more than once and are now the school bullies.  Kenny, on the other hand, is good student and advanced reader who gets taken around to other classes to read to them.  And Joetta - well, she can be a little adorably officious but she does really love her brothers.

By has been in all kinds to trouble in and out of school lately, and now he has even taken to playing with matches in the bathroom upstairs.  His parents are already at their wits end with him, so when he has a chemical straightener put in his hair without asking for permission,  they decide that By need to spend the summer with his grandmother down in Birmingham, Al.  After all, strict, no nonsense Grandma Sands raised her daughter good and proper, maybe she can do something with Byron.  And she lives in a quiet part of Birmingham, not near any of the trouble has been happening there between blacks and white.

But what happens when the Watsons get to Birmingham, is anything but what they expected?

Narrated in the first person by Kenny, The Watson go to Birmingham - 1963 is the story of one family at a pivotal moment in the history of the US and the Civil Rights Movement and the impact that moment has on them.  The majority of the book takes place in Flint, MI and Kenny tells us all about his family, his friend Rufus and getting the Brown Bomber, a dull brown 1948 Plymouth, ready for its road trip.  Much of this heartwarming story is told with humor, but there is a serious side to it as well.  The bombing of the church Grandma Sands belongs to, the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, changes the Watsons forever.

This past Sunday, September 15, 2013, marked the 50th anniversary of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing that killed 4 little girls.  Christopher Paul Curtis dedicated The Watsons go to Birmingham - 1963 to their memory and this year, President Obama signed a bill that posthumously awarded these four girls a Congressional Gold Medal.

Denise McNair, Carol Robertson, Adie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley
On Friday, September 20, 2013 the Hallmark Channel is presenting the premiere of the movie version of The Watsons go to Birmingham - 1963 at 8/7c.  This looks like it is going to be a great production of a great novel and I am really looking forward to seeing it.

The Watsons go to Biormingham - 1963 is recommended for readers age 8+
This book was purchased for my personal library

This is book 5 of my 2013 Award Winning Reading Challenge hosted by Gathering Books


  1. Looks like a wonderful book to add to a home or classroom library!

  2. I would dearly love to read this - I must look for a copy. Thanks for sharing it.

  3. Can't wait to see the movie! I have a copy of the book and need to read it. My kids rave about this book and the author in general!


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