The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963

by Christopher Paul Curtis

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Short Summary
Both funny and moving, this award-winning novel brings to life an unforgettable African American family that is forever changed by the civil rights movement.

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Ten-year-old Kenny knows why everyone in Flint, Michigan, refers to his family as the Weird Watsons; they're always laughing or crying or making a scene. And then there's Kenny's older brother, Byron, who's now 13 and an "official juvenile delinquent." If Byron doesn't pass sixth grade soon, he'll be the oldest kid at Clark Elementary School! But instead of studying, Byron spends his time cutting school, acting out, and bullying Kenny. When one of his stunts goes too far, Kenny's parents decide it's time for Byron to live with his strict Grandma Sands in Alabama.

The road trip from Flint to Birmingham is wild and wacky, even for the Weird Watsons. But it's 1963—and the family is headed right toward one of the darkest moments in America's history. Things are very different in the South, and soon the Watsons find themselves in the middle of the emerging civil rights movement. Will Kenny be able to handle it all—especially when tragedy hits a little too close to home?

Award-winning author Christopher Paul Curtis combines humor, heartbreak, and history into one remarkable read!

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Product Details

    • Grades: 5 - 8
    • Ages: 10 - 13
  • Product Type: Book
  • Page Count: 224 pages
  • Dimensions: 5 1/4" x 7 5/8"
  • Language: English
  • ISBN 13: 978-0-590-69014-0

Editorial Reviews

"In this compelling first novel, form and content are one: in the last few chapters, the affectionate situation comedy is suddenly transformed, and we see how racist terror can invade the shelter of home." —Booklist

"Kenny's story is also a heartbreaking look at one child's attempt to cope with a crisis of spirit after a shattering event in Birmingham. In his first novel, Curtis has created a voice of extraordinary force." —School Library Journal Children's Literature