Monday, May 7, 2007

Bud, Not Buddy By: Christopher Paul Curtis

Curtis, C. (1999). Bud, Not Buddy. Delacorte Press.

Winner of the Newbery Medal – 2000
Winner of the Coretta Scott Kind Award for writing – 2000

This novel has a spirited boy named Bud, who is ten years old and an orphan. His mother died when he was six, and as a homeless young man in the depression era in Michigan, he most certainly has a tough life to lead. With his suitcase of bits and pieces of memories, he gets his mind set on the hope of finding his father. Bud remembers how his mother kept some flyers about a famous jazz band when they would play, and one particular one that did not have their home town of Flint on it was the one that had upset her the most. Not long after that, Bud found his mother who had passed away. He goes to seek one of the men in flyer pictures named Herman Calloway, which Bud, desperate to solve whatever mystery is left in his life by trying to put together the pieces of the puzzle left for him, sets firm to believing that he is his own father. Sprinkled throughout the text are Bud’s self-mantras to keep him tough to the world, which he calls “Bud Caldwell’s Rules and Things for Having a Funner Life and Making a Better Liar Out of Yourself.” His mature, street savvy skills of survival are insightful, and enlightening for the reader to read these sources of much of Bud’s thinking. He travels to find his “father,” and when he does, the man denies that he is Bud’s dad. He comes to discover that he is instead his mother’s father, his grandfather, and that’s why his mother wept and kept the flyers, missing her strained relationship with him that never really had a chance to be mended. Bud proceeds to become a budding musician thanks to a band mate, Steady Eddie, who gives him a horn, and in turn, this opportunity and adventure led him to gain hope. Bud deals with weights or worries that most modern day children could not fathom having to deal with, but through this book, can certainly gain a deep understanding of perseverance and survival, all within the realms of a constant hope despite adversities of being orphaned, dealing with racism, and the Great Depression. It was well crafted in descriptive language, and the sense of hope could be heard and felt by me throughout the book, due to the way the hard challenges clouded and blended with his endurance. I appreciated Bud’s wit and keen observations about life, because seeing other people’s point of view expands our core of knowledge and understandings about the many facets and shades of the human condition.

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