Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Watson's Go To Birmingham - 1963


The Watson's Go to Birmingham - 1963

By:  Christopher Paul Curtis 

This is a story about the weird Watson's.  The weird Watson's are a family consisting of Kenny- the middle child, Byron, the older brother,  Joetta - the younger sister, and of course their momma, and dad.  The Watson's are called the Weird Watson's but they seem like a normal loving family to me.  There is of course an older brother Byron who thinks he is "too cool for school."  He gets into a lot of trouble and causes a lot of mischief.  Byron finally pushes his parents enough that they decide to send him to stay with his Grandma in Alabama for the summer and possibly the whole next year. So the Weird Watson's set out on their journey in their Brown Bomber equipped with an Ultra Glide and set out for the south.

When they get to Alabama they find a different world than they are used to and the HEAT really gets to them.  They seem to have fun and Byron acts like a completely different person. When Kenny confronts him about his change of tune he just responds with "What you expect.?"  "You seen her. That bird's as old as dirt.  She's so old I bet she used to step over dinosaur turds.  I ain't gonna have her death on my hands."  Kenny realized all the "fight was out of Byron and they's only been in Birmingham for a couple of minutes."  Kenny, however, starts to act out and even almost drowns and gets taken by the "wool pooh"  when he goes swimming in a place he was not supposed to be.  But Byron saves him.

The turn of events in the story happens when Joetta goes off to a church in Alabama and a bombing happens.  Kenny runs to the church and goes inside witnessing the death of several girls and the destruction.  His sister is safe though Kenny is affected by what he saw.  The Weird Watson's leave Alabama that night.  Kenny doesn't understand why someone would do this and instead of understanding his emotions and talking about them takes up to hiding behind the couch in the World Famous Watson Pet Hospital.  His family worries about him and in the end Byron is the one that helps him work through his feelings and gets him to come out from behind the couch.  

This is a great novel with not only a great story line but a good piece of history embedded in with the events.  The epilogue in the back really sums up and brings to light the historical piece.  Curtis brings light to an important topic while creating a story that is fun and engaging that will want readers to continue reading.

I really liked how you did not get the historical aspects thrown in your face it was developed and went along with the story.  It was also the great climax of the story.  The book is almost in to two parts the Watson's before the bombing and the Watson's after.  Kenny, who's voice tells the story, really grows from a small child that is somewhat naive and playful to a young man all in the time of the book.  He has the roller coaster of emotions that a young boy would have and is a character, that although set back in 1963, is very easy to relate to for children.

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