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A wonderful middle-grade novel narrated by Kenny, 9, about his middle-class black family, the Weird Watsons of Flint, Michigan. When Kenny's 13-year-old brother, Byron, gets to be too much trouble, they head South to Birmingham to visit Grandma, the one person who can shape him up. And they happen to be in Birmingham when Grandma's church is blown up.
Published: Random House Publishing Group on Aug 6, 2013
ISBN: 9780385382953
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This captivating book first allows you to get to know the crazy Watson family. After you spend time hearing their crazy antics, you get to ride right along with them to a major event in the civil rights movement. This book really gets children to see, understand, and feel what it was like to be in that time period from a family that was directly affected.read more
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Curtis, Christopher Paul. The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963. 2000.After Byron continuously gets in trouble and picks on his younger brother, Kenny, the Watson's decide to take them to their grandmother's home in Alabama hoping that some good old fashioned southern discipline. During their visit to Alabama the Watsons become witnesses to one of the worst events in American history during the Civil Rights movement: the deadly bombing of an African American church. This story begins and ends with the Watson's sitting on the couch in their living room, where they are most comfortable. Curtis uses humor to lighten up the storyline and really show how the characters, the Watson family, interact with and care about one another. I think one theme of the book is that each person begins their life as normal people and becomes extraordinary. He challenges his readers to become people who stand up for what is right, not to sit on the sidelines.Awards:Newbery Honor Coretta Scott King Honor Golden Kite Award ALA Best Books for Young Adults A Horn Book Fanfare Best Book BCCB Blue Ribbon Book ALA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults Young Hoosier Book Award Nominee ALA Notable Children's Bookread more
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Meet the Watsons, a black family of five living in 1960s Flint, Michigan. They are the wierd Watsons, as Kenny, the 10-year old narrator tells us. Kenny has a younger sister Joetta, the darling of the family and an older brother Byron, who is 13 and always in trouble. Kenny himself is a geeky, intelligent kid who would be beaten up way more if it wasn't for his cool, bully-ish older brother.As Byron screws up more and more, The parental Watsons decide he should go live with the mother's mother down in Birmingham. She is very strict and they hope that Byron will use the time to straighten out. They embark on a road trip that takes them from the relatively liberal and safe North, through to the racist, volatile South. They arrive in Birmingham just in time to witness one of the more tragic events of the Civil Rights movement, the bombing of the Sixteenth St. Baptist Church.The title is misleading. The book takes place mainly in Flint, not in Birmingham, and recounts the daily adventures of Kenny and his siblings. Though this part is humorous and heart-warming, the title was always at the back of my mind, as well as the knowledge that this book was supposedly about the Civil Rights movement. For most of the book there is no racial tension- in fact, it is conspicuously absent. Which in a way is wonderful- to have a book just about a normal black family growing up at the time, without all the horror of Jim Crow and the Klu Klux Klan.Of course, the last few chapters makes up for this in spades. The tension grows the more south they go. They must plan their trip carefully, making sure they have enough fuel to get through certain patches, and assuring themselves they know of places to stop that are friendly to Blacks. They pass rest stops with segregated toilets. Restaurants that won't serve them. But the kicker comes when they arrive in Birmingham and Joetta decides to go to church one Sunday morning.Up to this point, The Watsons is an enjoyable, yet light, read. Then all of a sudden my heart was in my throat and tears were in my eyes. I won't go into it too much, but suffice it to say the ending was very heart-breaking and moving. This is not a story about blacks and the civil rights movement, but about regular people, regular kids reacting to the worst humanity has to offer.read more
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Curtis, Christopher Paul. (1995) The Watsons Go to Birmingham- 1963. New York: Delacorte Press.This story takes place in 1963 as the Watson Family leaves on a car trip starting in Flint, Michigan heading south to Birmingham, Alabama to visit their grandma. They are a family of 5: little sister Joetta, brothers Kenny and Byron and their mom and dad. This fictional story is part of the true events that took place in Birmingham in 1963. A baptist church was bombed by a white man involved in the Ku Klux Klan. This fictional story doesn't go into many details about the circumstances surrounding the bombings but it does do a good job of portraying them honestly with a lot of description about the emotions that they characters felt. There is no evidence of stereotyping or overgeneralization and the plot is very credible within the historical period especially because the author places a member of the family within the church at the time of the bombing. The language and dialogue are keeping with the way the young kids interact with one another and especially with the adults during 1963 in the South. There are no illustrations included in this book but the authors vivid descriptions allow the reader to create mental images of the events.read more
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This was book was absolutely hilarious. I couldn't stop laughing as I was reading it. Kenny is a bright, intelligent character with the sense of humor of every ten year old boy. His strong and clever wit is dampened by the tragedy that occurs at the end of the book until he is able to work through his view of the situation. The book is well written and very moving. Readers are bound to fall in love with Kenny Watson!read more
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Kenny is growing up in freezing-cold Flint, Michigan with his delinquent brother Byron, his little sister Joey, and his realistically odd and wonderful parents. They are known as the "Weird Watsons" by neighbors, and a lot of that has to do with Byron. Through the eyes of Kenny, readers experience a series of episodes that paint a clear portrait of the trouble-making teen: from narcissism to thievery and vandalism to pyromania, it's one thing after another until his parents decide he needs to be sent to live with Grandma in Alabama to straighten him out. The family packs up the Brown Bomber and prepares for the 1000-mile drive south. Kenny's innocence keeps him from fully understanding the careful preparations that his parents have made to keep their family safe from the racism of the South, but readers will understand the reasons for his mother's careful planning and his father's decision to make the entire trip without stopping for anything but gasoline. Everything seems fine to Kenny until his grandma's church is bombed (hinting at the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963) throwing his reality into chaos, which he overcomes with the help of his big brother. This historical novel feels like watching old family movies, although few of the scenes are things that a family might choose to record. It is nostalgic but genuine and conversational in tone, as it brings readers into the Watson family and with them into the racial tension of 1960s Jim Crow South. The narration turns rather bizarre and then a bit didactic near the end as Kenny works to process some mysterious and troubling events, which may in fact be a realistic portrayal of how a boy like Kenny might come to terms with his experience.This highly descriptive novel will appeal to fans of realistic and historical American fiction. It is ideal for middle and early high school school students, but voracious elementary-age readers will enjoy it as well. This Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Honor book should be a part of every public and school library collection and could be an effective component of an interdisciplinary English and Social Studies curriculum on topics such as historical fiction and the Civil Rights movement. The audiobook is superbly narrated by LeVar Burton (of Reading Rainbow and Star Trek fame) and is a fantastic choice for a family road trip.read more
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this was a very interesting book. And they weren't even in Birmingham for as long as i expected. But it was a very good book anyway :)read more
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The Watsons are a black family living in a small town in Flint, Michigan. They have three children, Bryon, Kenneth, and Joetta. In Flint, Bryon gets into a lot trouble. His parents have only one solution left to help Bryon. That is to bring him to Grandma Sands in Birmingham, Alabama. Once there, Bryon’s attitude changes for the better. The family is enjoying their stay until one Sunday when the black church is bombed. The family is all upset because Joetta had left a few minutes earlier to go to Sunday school. Once the family finds out that Joetta is fine and not hurt, they pack up and head back to Flint, Michigan. Once home, the Watson's have to deal with the emotions that the bombing had on Kenneth.read more
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Very good book the climax comes in a little late but it shows how bad it was in thecivil rights movement.read more
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The Watsons is an outstanding example of historical fiction in my mind. First, past events are depicted acurately and authentically. Kenny's life in Flint seems to be quite accurate for the time--his house, neighborhood, the things he uses every day paint a clear picture of the times. The characters in the book also reflect the values and standards of the time. This was particularly apparent to me when the Watsons were traveling to Birmingham, especially Kenny's mother's caution about where they would stop and stay along the way as they moved through the southern states. Kenny's mother, being from Birmingham, has a great deal of wariness about encountering strange white people and their possible reactions. Her fears are voiced by Byron: "'I ain't scared of no damn snake, it's the people I'm worried about....Didn't you hear Momma say this is Appalachia?...Man they got crackers and rednecks up here that ain't never seen no Negroes before. If they caught your ass out here like this they'd hang you now, then eat you later.'" There is a certain amount of humor in this exchange--the image of rednecks eating Negroes is preposterous enough to lighten the statement--but the underlying fear of lynching was real. The language, too, is accurate for the times, while still being easily understandable by more modern readers.read more
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A black family from Michigan travels to Birmingham, an area caught up in the civil rights movement. The Watsons' time in Birmingham and the aftermath of their witness of the civil rights movement was very short. The get-to-know the family part of the book was entertaining, but the ending could have been better developed and less abrupt.read more
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With an over protective mom, a dangerous brother, and a whiny little sister, the Watsons are in for an adventure. In Flint, Michigan it is extremely cold unfortunatley for the Watsons. Joey and Kenny are always being bundled up by their mom, which gives the kids at school an extra reason to tease them even their brother the biggest bully of the school. But that all changes when they go to Alabama for a vacation with there strict Grandma. I liked this book is good because it showed how the'weird Watsons got through being bullied at school.read more
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Typically funny family story by Curtis. VERY humorous, yet true to life. Emphasizes family and also the African-American struggle in the 1960s.read more
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Good book. The time setting wasn't my favorite, I don't like reading about the civil rights movement. It is very sad. Still good though. Byron is very funny.read more
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I liked this book better than Bud Not Buddy still by Christopher Paul Curtis!read more
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the family has to live during the time where blacks wernt treated right and this familyread more
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My favorite book of all time! I read this story aloud to my students every year and most of them cite it as their favorite book. We laugh and cry together throughout this wonderful story. This is a read aloud that students beg me to keep reading when I say time is up. I don't read the curse words, but give a little wink when I change a word. Students love this. (My way of not taking away from the integrity of the author's work, but not upsetting parents, either!) This is a must read for everyone!!!!read more
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Very good story. one of the best i ever read. Aesome characters very easy to relate to.read more
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The book describes the Watsons--an African-American family of 5--who live in Flint, Michigan. About half-way through the book, they decide to travel to Birmingham, where the mother's family lives. Told by the middle child, Kenny, the story has moments that are hilarious (usually involving Byron--the oldest who is a troublemaker) and moments of great sorrow (such as the church bombing). The epilogue explains what was actually going on in America during 1963, and the impact of the civil rights movement. It gives a history lesson in a way students can understand. For me, this was the most valuable part of the book. Other reviewers have mentioned the language. There are some bad words in the book, usually spoken by Byron. This is part of characterization. Byron is constantly in trouble, and he's always trying to be the tough guy. He uses foul language at times to get this message across to Kenny. I teach junior high students, and this is a book we read every year. It's amazing. My students love it, and it opens the door for great class discussions. Students in today's world cannot fathom the challenges experienced by the Watson family. This book is a window into a different era, and because the characters are so likable and realistic, children can relate to them. This was a book my students were begging to read every day.read more
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Library Thing Part C #1 Historical FictionCurtis, Christopher Paul. The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963. New York: Yearling Book, 1997. Print. The author has provided the reader with setting, characters, and dialog that truly convey the late 1950’s and early 1960’s just before American society acknowledges the Civil Rights Movement. Mr. Curtis begins with one family, the Watsons, focusing in on their challenges as an African American family living in Flint Michigan. Through the eyes of Kenny Watson we walk through the African American neighborhood and school…classrooms, school yard, school bus stop, school bus, and local grocery store. From laughing at big brother, Byron’s misdeeds to the long road trip from Flint MI to Birmingham AL, the reader understands and identifies with an African American family’s fears and worries while on a road trip that crosses unfriendly state lines. The fear of prejudice in one’s own country from one’s fellow citizens unfolds as the plot takes us to the south. Back ground details such as their car, hair styles, clothing, music, clichés, and the stirrings of the Civil Rights Movement in certain areas in the city of Birmingham, all reflect the values and the norms of the U.S. culture in the early 60’s. This title allows a young reader, as well as an adult, to laugh and cry along with the Watson family, as they live in Flint, as they journey on the road to Birmingham, and as they enjoy their visit with Grandma Sands; right up to that terrifying Sunday morning at the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing and the deaths of four little girls. Chapter 15 gives a believable account of a child’s trying to deal with the fear of death and the guilt that always seems to linger around cruel events caused by unexplainable emotions. The beauty of family and the importance of relationship and self love are all present in the story’s powerful conclusion. All libraries should have at least 5 copies of this title on its shelf. A powerful read for language arts, and social studies, and readers theatre and multicultural studies.read more
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Loved it, even though I'm 40+. I highly recommend it for adolescents/teens who are studying the 60's, though it does have a tiny bit of "language."read more
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Wonderful book for grades 5 and up. Very interesting family featured in the book. Family is traveling south on I-75 to Alabama from Flint, MI. The dad is a hoot, and the whole family is a riot. There is a lot of 1960s slang in the book which is fun to discuss with students. The bombing at the Baptist church which occurred in Birmingham in 1963 was close to the end of the story.read more
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It swears, but it is still a great book about the Silvia right movement.read more
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A good book about a family trip to Birmingham, Alabama. Sad and Happy parts. One of the best books I have ever read.read more
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Kenny is a just a normal kid who goes to school and lives with his family in Michigan during 1963. His older brother is trouble maker and does not know when enough is enough. Their parents decide they have had enough and decide to take the family on a trip to Alabama to visit their Grandma. While visiting, the family becomes a part of history when a local sunday school building is exploded.read more
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this is a great book about how a family and how they go to Birmingham, Alabama right in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement.read more
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This book is about the Watsons, who move from Birmingham, Alabama during Civil Rights Movement in the early 1960's. They witness the horrific bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. The book addresses issues during the 1960s and would be a great discussion book for older children.read more
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Book Review – The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963Curtis, Christopher Paul. The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963. 1995. Delacorte Press: New YorkGenre: Historical FictionThemes: Racial prejudice, segregation, integration of schools, Civil Rights MovementAge / Grade Appropriateness: Middle School or High School age studentsAwards: Newbety Honor Book, Coretta Scott King Honor AwardCensorship Issues: There are a few curse words in this book, but well integrated in the story, and not just for effect. Those parts of the book showed typical teen issues and teen rebellion and the parts would not have made as much sense without those curse words. The words did not make the book inappropriate for middle school or highschool level students. The book would probably not be appropriate for elementary students. Plot Summary:A black family living in Michigan is comprised of a 9 year old boy who narrates the story, his younger sister who is absolutely perfect and his older brother who is a rebellious teenage boy. Their parents are strict, the dad from the north and the mom from the south. The family is the Watsons, also referred to as the Weird Watsons. The nine year old son, Kenny, has crossed eyes and often gets picked on at school. The teenage brother, Byron or By as he’s often called, gets into trouble constantly. He has finally pushed his parents too far and they decide to take him to his Grandma’s house in Birmingham, Alabama. The dad fixed up their old car the best that they could afford and even had a record player installed in the car for the trip. The family jokingly calls their car the Brown Bomber and sometimes even the Brown Turd. They make the long trip together, starting out rough but spending some good quality time together. Once in Birmingham, the strict grandma makes an impression on Byron and he starts acting better almost instantly. Only days after they arrived there, the young daughter Joey went to church with their neighbors. During church time the family heard a loud and unusual noise. They rushed into town after learning that a bomb had gone off at the church. Kenny entered the church and believed that his sister was killed. He was so upset he rushed back home and then was later confronted by his sister, who did in fact live. Come to find out, she had left the church chasing after someone she believed was Kenny. Kenny was confused and unsure of the real truth and even unsure if he was awake or dreaming or dead or alive. After returning home to Michigan he had a hard month or so emotionally. He spent most of his time hiding behind their couch, in a place that he believed had magical powers. The end of the book consisted of a very emotional situation between the two brothers, in which they bonded in a way that was heart-wrenching. Critique:The story is written from the viewpoint of a fourth grade student, meeting one of the criteria of a young adult book. Since the narrator is young, the story is easy to read and easy to follow while providing humor and seriousness both at appropriate times. Curriculum Uses:This book could used when teaching about segregation, the Civil Rights Movement, or discrimination. The book provides examples of situations that actually happened, mixed with fictional characters and their emotions, which are like the emotions of the people who experienced those actual situations. This book would really make a pre-teen or teenage student connect with those things they are learning in history class and make them have empathy.read more
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A great story of a family's decision to try to do something drastic to set their delinquent son straight. Lots of humor, told from a child's point of view. Family bonds, historical tragedy, sweltering heat, bitter cold, funny anecdotes, life lessons. This book has something for everyone. It still remains a very pertinent read today.read more
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The Weird Watsons-Dad, Mom, Byron, Kenny, and Joey- are an African American family living in Flint, Michigan, around the time of the civil rights movement. The story is narrated by Kenny, who is constantly picked on by his older brother Byron. The family decides Byron could use a little more structure and take a trip to Birmingham, Alabama to drop him off with Grandma Sands for the summer. Experiencing a bomb that hit in Birmingham, the Watsons come to realize the importance of love and the strong bond of a family.read more
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This captivating book first allows you to get to know the crazy Watson family. After you spend time hearing their crazy antics, you get to ride right along with them to a major event in the civil rights movement. This book really gets children to see, understand, and feel what it was like to be in that time period from a family that was directly affected.
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Curtis, Christopher Paul. The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963. 2000.After Byron continuously gets in trouble and picks on his younger brother, Kenny, the Watson's decide to take them to their grandmother's home in Alabama hoping that some good old fashioned southern discipline. During their visit to Alabama the Watsons become witnesses to one of the worst events in American history during the Civil Rights movement: the deadly bombing of an African American church. This story begins and ends with the Watson's sitting on the couch in their living room, where they are most comfortable. Curtis uses humor to lighten up the storyline and really show how the characters, the Watson family, interact with and care about one another. I think one theme of the book is that each person begins their life as normal people and becomes extraordinary. He challenges his readers to become people who stand up for what is right, not to sit on the sidelines.Awards:Newbery Honor Coretta Scott King Honor Golden Kite Award ALA Best Books for Young Adults A Horn Book Fanfare Best Book BCCB Blue Ribbon Book ALA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults Young Hoosier Book Award Nominee ALA Notable Children's Book
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Meet the Watsons, a black family of five living in 1960s Flint, Michigan. They are the wierd Watsons, as Kenny, the 10-year old narrator tells us. Kenny has a younger sister Joetta, the darling of the family and an older brother Byron, who is 13 and always in trouble. Kenny himself is a geeky, intelligent kid who would be beaten up way more if it wasn't for his cool, bully-ish older brother.As Byron screws up more and more, The parental Watsons decide he should go live with the mother's mother down in Birmingham. She is very strict and they hope that Byron will use the time to straighten out. They embark on a road trip that takes them from the relatively liberal and safe North, through to the racist, volatile South. They arrive in Birmingham just in time to witness one of the more tragic events of the Civil Rights movement, the bombing of the Sixteenth St. Baptist Church.The title is misleading. The book takes place mainly in Flint, not in Birmingham, and recounts the daily adventures of Kenny and his siblings. Though this part is humorous and heart-warming, the title was always at the back of my mind, as well as the knowledge that this book was supposedly about the Civil Rights movement. For most of the book there is no racial tension- in fact, it is conspicuously absent. Which in a way is wonderful- to have a book just about a normal black family growing up at the time, without all the horror of Jim Crow and the Klu Klux Klan.Of course, the last few chapters makes up for this in spades. The tension grows the more south they go. They must plan their trip carefully, making sure they have enough fuel to get through certain patches, and assuring themselves they know of places to stop that are friendly to Blacks. They pass rest stops with segregated toilets. Restaurants that won't serve them. But the kicker comes when they arrive in Birmingham and Joetta decides to go to church one Sunday morning.Up to this point, The Watsons is an enjoyable, yet light, read. Then all of a sudden my heart was in my throat and tears were in my eyes. I won't go into it too much, but suffice it to say the ending was very heart-breaking and moving. This is not a story about blacks and the civil rights movement, but about regular people, regular kids reacting to the worst humanity has to offer.
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Curtis, Christopher Paul. (1995) The Watsons Go to Birmingham- 1963. New York: Delacorte Press.This story takes place in 1963 as the Watson Family leaves on a car trip starting in Flint, Michigan heading south to Birmingham, Alabama to visit their grandma. They are a family of 5: little sister Joetta, brothers Kenny and Byron and their mom and dad. This fictional story is part of the true events that took place in Birmingham in 1963. A baptist church was bombed by a white man involved in the Ku Klux Klan. This fictional story doesn't go into many details about the circumstances surrounding the bombings but it does do a good job of portraying them honestly with a lot of description about the emotions that they characters felt. There is no evidence of stereotyping or overgeneralization and the plot is very credible within the historical period especially because the author places a member of the family within the church at the time of the bombing. The language and dialogue are keeping with the way the young kids interact with one another and especially with the adults during 1963 in the South. There are no illustrations included in this book but the authors vivid descriptions allow the reader to create mental images of the events.
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This was book was absolutely hilarious. I couldn't stop laughing as I was reading it. Kenny is a bright, intelligent character with the sense of humor of every ten year old boy. His strong and clever wit is dampened by the tragedy that occurs at the end of the book until he is able to work through his view of the situation. The book is well written and very moving. Readers are bound to fall in love with Kenny Watson!
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Kenny is growing up in freezing-cold Flint, Michigan with his delinquent brother Byron, his little sister Joey, and his realistically odd and wonderful parents. They are known as the "Weird Watsons" by neighbors, and a lot of that has to do with Byron. Through the eyes of Kenny, readers experience a series of episodes that paint a clear portrait of the trouble-making teen: from narcissism to thievery and vandalism to pyromania, it's one thing after another until his parents decide he needs to be sent to live with Grandma in Alabama to straighten him out. The family packs up the Brown Bomber and prepares for the 1000-mile drive south. Kenny's innocence keeps him from fully understanding the careful preparations that his parents have made to keep their family safe from the racism of the South, but readers will understand the reasons for his mother's careful planning and his father's decision to make the entire trip without stopping for anything but gasoline. Everything seems fine to Kenny until his grandma's church is bombed (hinting at the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963) throwing his reality into chaos, which he overcomes with the help of his big brother. This historical novel feels like watching old family movies, although few of the scenes are things that a family might choose to record. It is nostalgic but genuine and conversational in tone, as it brings readers into the Watson family and with them into the racial tension of 1960s Jim Crow South. The narration turns rather bizarre and then a bit didactic near the end as Kenny works to process some mysterious and troubling events, which may in fact be a realistic portrayal of how a boy like Kenny might come to terms with his experience.This highly descriptive novel will appeal to fans of realistic and historical American fiction. It is ideal for middle and early high school school students, but voracious elementary-age readers will enjoy it as well. This Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Honor book should be a part of every public and school library collection and could be an effective component of an interdisciplinary English and Social Studies curriculum on topics such as historical fiction and the Civil Rights movement. The audiobook is superbly narrated by LeVar Burton (of Reading Rainbow and Star Trek fame) and is a fantastic choice for a family road trip.
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this was a very interesting book. And they weren't even in Birmingham for as long as i expected. But it was a very good book anyway :)
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The Watsons are a black family living in a small town in Flint, Michigan. They have three children, Bryon, Kenneth, and Joetta. In Flint, Bryon gets into a lot trouble. His parents have only one solution left to help Bryon. That is to bring him to Grandma Sands in Birmingham, Alabama. Once there, Bryon’s attitude changes for the better. The family is enjoying their stay until one Sunday when the black church is bombed. The family is all upset because Joetta had left a few minutes earlier to go to Sunday school. Once the family finds out that Joetta is fine and not hurt, they pack up and head back to Flint, Michigan. Once home, the Watson's have to deal with the emotions that the bombing had on Kenneth.
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Very good book the climax comes in a little late but it shows how bad it was in thecivil rights movement.
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The Watsons is an outstanding example of historical fiction in my mind. First, past events are depicted acurately and authentically. Kenny's life in Flint seems to be quite accurate for the time--his house, neighborhood, the things he uses every day paint a clear picture of the times. The characters in the book also reflect the values and standards of the time. This was particularly apparent to me when the Watsons were traveling to Birmingham, especially Kenny's mother's caution about where they would stop and stay along the way as they moved through the southern states. Kenny's mother, being from Birmingham, has a great deal of wariness about encountering strange white people and their possible reactions. Her fears are voiced by Byron: "'I ain't scared of no damn snake, it's the people I'm worried about....Didn't you hear Momma say this is Appalachia?...Man they got crackers and rednecks up here that ain't never seen no Negroes before. If they caught your ass out here like this they'd hang you now, then eat you later.'" There is a certain amount of humor in this exchange--the image of rednecks eating Negroes is preposterous enough to lighten the statement--but the underlying fear of lynching was real. The language, too, is accurate for the times, while still being easily understandable by more modern readers.
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A black family from Michigan travels to Birmingham, an area caught up in the civil rights movement. The Watsons' time in Birmingham and the aftermath of their witness of the civil rights movement was very short. The get-to-know the family part of the book was entertaining, but the ending could have been better developed and less abrupt.
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With an over protective mom, a dangerous brother, and a whiny little sister, the Watsons are in for an adventure. In Flint, Michigan it is extremely cold unfortunatley for the Watsons. Joey and Kenny are always being bundled up by their mom, which gives the kids at school an extra reason to tease them even their brother the biggest bully of the school. But that all changes when they go to Alabama for a vacation with there strict Grandma. I liked this book is good because it showed how the'weird Watsons got through being bullied at school.
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Typically funny family story by Curtis. VERY humorous, yet true to life. Emphasizes family and also the African-American struggle in the 1960s.
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Good book. The time setting wasn't my favorite, I don't like reading about the civil rights movement. It is very sad. Still good though. Byron is very funny.
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I liked this book better than Bud Not Buddy still by Christopher Paul Curtis!
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the family has to live during the time where blacks wernt treated right and this family
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My favorite book of all time! I read this story aloud to my students every year and most of them cite it as their favorite book. We laugh and cry together throughout this wonderful story. This is a read aloud that students beg me to keep reading when I say time is up. I don't read the curse words, but give a little wink when I change a word. Students love this. (My way of not taking away from the integrity of the author's work, but not upsetting parents, either!) This is a must read for everyone!!!!
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Very good story. one of the best i ever read. Aesome characters very easy to relate to.
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The book describes the Watsons--an African-American family of 5--who live in Flint, Michigan. About half-way through the book, they decide to travel to Birmingham, where the mother's family lives. Told by the middle child, Kenny, the story has moments that are hilarious (usually involving Byron--the oldest who is a troublemaker) and moments of great sorrow (such as the church bombing). The epilogue explains what was actually going on in America during 1963, and the impact of the civil rights movement. It gives a history lesson in a way students can understand. For me, this was the most valuable part of the book. Other reviewers have mentioned the language. There are some bad words in the book, usually spoken by Byron. This is part of characterization. Byron is constantly in trouble, and he's always trying to be the tough guy. He uses foul language at times to get this message across to Kenny. I teach junior high students, and this is a book we read every year. It's amazing. My students love it, and it opens the door for great class discussions. Students in today's world cannot fathom the challenges experienced by the Watson family. This book is a window into a different era, and because the characters are so likable and realistic, children can relate to them. This was a book my students were begging to read every day.
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Library Thing Part C #1 Historical FictionCurtis, Christopher Paul. The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963. New York: Yearling Book, 1997. Print. The author has provided the reader with setting, characters, and dialog that truly convey the late 1950’s and early 1960’s just before American society acknowledges the Civil Rights Movement. Mr. Curtis begins with one family, the Watsons, focusing in on their challenges as an African American family living in Flint Michigan. Through the eyes of Kenny Watson we walk through the African American neighborhood and school…classrooms, school yard, school bus stop, school bus, and local grocery store. From laughing at big brother, Byron’s misdeeds to the long road trip from Flint MI to Birmingham AL, the reader understands and identifies with an African American family’s fears and worries while on a road trip that crosses unfriendly state lines. The fear of prejudice in one’s own country from one’s fellow citizens unfolds as the plot takes us to the south. Back ground details such as their car, hair styles, clothing, music, clichés, and the stirrings of the Civil Rights Movement in certain areas in the city of Birmingham, all reflect the values and the norms of the U.S. culture in the early 60’s. This title allows a young reader, as well as an adult, to laugh and cry along with the Watson family, as they live in Flint, as they journey on the road to Birmingham, and as they enjoy their visit with Grandma Sands; right up to that terrifying Sunday morning at the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing and the deaths of four little girls. Chapter 15 gives a believable account of a child’s trying to deal with the fear of death and the guilt that always seems to linger around cruel events caused by unexplainable emotions. The beauty of family and the importance of relationship and self love are all present in the story’s powerful conclusion. All libraries should have at least 5 copies of this title on its shelf. A powerful read for language arts, and social studies, and readers theatre and multicultural studies.
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Loved it, even though I'm 40+. I highly recommend it for adolescents/teens who are studying the 60's, though it does have a tiny bit of "language."
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Wonderful book for grades 5 and up. Very interesting family featured in the book. Family is traveling south on I-75 to Alabama from Flint, MI. The dad is a hoot, and the whole family is a riot. There is a lot of 1960s slang in the book which is fun to discuss with students. The bombing at the Baptist church which occurred in Birmingham in 1963 was close to the end of the story.
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It swears, but it is still a great book about the Silvia right movement.
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A good book about a family trip to Birmingham, Alabama. Sad and Happy parts. One of the best books I have ever read.
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Kenny is a just a normal kid who goes to school and lives with his family in Michigan during 1963. His older brother is trouble maker and does not know when enough is enough. Their parents decide they have had enough and decide to take the family on a trip to Alabama to visit their Grandma. While visiting, the family becomes a part of history when a local sunday school building is exploded.
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this is a great book about how a family and how they go to Birmingham, Alabama right in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement.
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This book is about the Watsons, who move from Birmingham, Alabama during Civil Rights Movement in the early 1960's. They witness the horrific bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. The book addresses issues during the 1960s and would be a great discussion book for older children.
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Book Review – The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963Curtis, Christopher Paul. The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963. 1995. Delacorte Press: New YorkGenre: Historical FictionThemes: Racial prejudice, segregation, integration of schools, Civil Rights MovementAge / Grade Appropriateness: Middle School or High School age studentsAwards: Newbety Honor Book, Coretta Scott King Honor AwardCensorship Issues: There are a few curse words in this book, but well integrated in the story, and not just for effect. Those parts of the book showed typical teen issues and teen rebellion and the parts would not have made as much sense without those curse words. The words did not make the book inappropriate for middle school or highschool level students. The book would probably not be appropriate for elementary students. Plot Summary:A black family living in Michigan is comprised of a 9 year old boy who narrates the story, his younger sister who is absolutely perfect and his older brother who is a rebellious teenage boy. Their parents are strict, the dad from the north and the mom from the south. The family is the Watsons, also referred to as the Weird Watsons. The nine year old son, Kenny, has crossed eyes and often gets picked on at school. The teenage brother, Byron or By as he’s often called, gets into trouble constantly. He has finally pushed his parents too far and they decide to take him to his Grandma’s house in Birmingham, Alabama. The dad fixed up their old car the best that they could afford and even had a record player installed in the car for the trip. The family jokingly calls their car the Brown Bomber and sometimes even the Brown Turd. They make the long trip together, starting out rough but spending some good quality time together. Once in Birmingham, the strict grandma makes an impression on Byron and he starts acting better almost instantly. Only days after they arrived there, the young daughter Joey went to church with their neighbors. During church time the family heard a loud and unusual noise. They rushed into town after learning that a bomb had gone off at the church. Kenny entered the church and believed that his sister was killed. He was so upset he rushed back home and then was later confronted by his sister, who did in fact live. Come to find out, she had left the church chasing after someone she believed was Kenny. Kenny was confused and unsure of the real truth and even unsure if he was awake or dreaming or dead or alive. After returning home to Michigan he had a hard month or so emotionally. He spent most of his time hiding behind their couch, in a place that he believed had magical powers. The end of the book consisted of a very emotional situation between the two brothers, in which they bonded in a way that was heart-wrenching. Critique:The story is written from the viewpoint of a fourth grade student, meeting one of the criteria of a young adult book. Since the narrator is young, the story is easy to read and easy to follow while providing humor and seriousness both at appropriate times. Curriculum Uses:This book could used when teaching about segregation, the Civil Rights Movement, or discrimination. The book provides examples of situations that actually happened, mixed with fictional characters and their emotions, which are like the emotions of the people who experienced those actual situations. This book would really make a pre-teen or teenage student connect with those things they are learning in history class and make them have empathy.
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A great story of a family's decision to try to do something drastic to set their delinquent son straight. Lots of humor, told from a child's point of view. Family bonds, historical tragedy, sweltering heat, bitter cold, funny anecdotes, life lessons. This book has something for everyone. It still remains a very pertinent read today.
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The Weird Watsons-Dad, Mom, Byron, Kenny, and Joey- are an African American family living in Flint, Michigan, around the time of the civil rights movement. The story is narrated by Kenny, who is constantly picked on by his older brother Byron. The family decides Byron could use a little more structure and take a trip to Birmingham, Alabama to drop him off with Grandma Sands for the summer. Experiencing a bomb that hit in Birmingham, the Watsons come to realize the importance of love and the strong bond of a family.
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