Monday, August 29, 2011

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis [2000]

My Rating: 7/10

Quick Summary: During the Depression, 10 year old Bud runs away from a bad foster care situation in order to try and track down the jazz musician he thinks is his father.

I know you all will simply be shocked, shocked I say, when I mention that this was a historical book.  In fact, of the twelve Newbery medal winners I've already covered, there were only 2 that were not.  The 1930s seem to be a particularly popular time- this is the third one with a Depression-era setting.

Moving on from that, though, this was a charming book with an excellent sense of humor.  Bud is a very likable protagonist with a great narrative voice.  And also, if I'm going to read a book about the 30s, it's nice to actually get a non-white perspective for once.  In the afterward, Curtis mentioned that several of the characters were actually based on some of his own relatives, so he clearly put a lot of time and love into the research, and it shows.  He managed to convey a lot of feeling for the time without a lot of unnecessary exposition, and the atmosphere was well-defined.

I suppose my only real complaint about the story itself would be the rather far-fetched happy ending.  It was all a bit too pat and vaguely unrealistic, but as I've mentioned before, I'd rather have the happy ending for a children's book.  Cynical realism can come later.  And at least the author set up the Chekov's gun in the form of the stones and the picture at the beginning of the book, and then paid them off.

It's an accessible, likable book, and one that I think could be used in the classroom setting, or read solo.  And with that, we are on to the 1990s...

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