The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963

The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963

A Novel

Book - 1997
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The ordinary interactions and everyday routines of the Watsons, an African American family living in Flint, Michigan, are drastically changed after they go to visit Grandma in Alabama in the summer of 1963.
Publisher: New York : Bantam Doubleday Bell Books for Young Readers, 1997, c1995.
ISBN: 9780440414124
Branch Call Number: PS8555.U78 W37 1997
Characteristics: 210 p. ; 20 cm.


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Jun 20, 2016

Good story, but couldn't really get into it.

JCLBeckyC Feb 15, 2016

I came *this* close to giving up on this book after reading chapter five, which is way too violent for my taste. I'm so glad I didn't give up, though. This is a really good book that deserves our full attention, even though it's difficult sometimes. If you’re a wuss like me, maybe just skip chapter five?

Oct 25, 2015

Excellent story, humorous and interesting. Incorporates the family going to Alabama to visit Grandma and being there during the bombings of churches . This is not a sad story but cute and funny yet with the seriousness of the racial tension. Recommend this book. Looking forward to watching the DVD.

LibrLdyMapleValley Jan 23, 2015

The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963 is the unforgettable first novel written by Christopher Paul Curtis. It is a Newbery Award Honor and Coretta Scott King Award Honor book which is quite a pile of kudos for a first novel. It's one of those books that will linger in your memory for years. It's funny, heartwarming and then in the final pages it is heart wrenching. With all this heavy duty honor and glory one might wonder if kids would appreciate the story and I can assure you they do. It's just one of those books that did everything exactly right.
What makes this book work are the characters. So let's meet the Watsons or, as the neighborhood people call them... the Weird Watsons. And they earned that name. There's our brilliant ten year old narrator Kenny who shares his insights on his family. There's Byron who "just turned 13 so he was officially a teenage juvenile delinquent..." These two create a lot of comic/tragic energy as the story progresses. Joetta is their baby sister and hapless witness to most of their disasters. Mom and Dad are quirky, creative, and often exasperated.
The chapter headings give you a good idea of what kind of trouble the boys tend to get into usually with Kenny as the victim. Chapter five for instance is "Nazi Parachutes Attack America and Get Shot Down over the Flint River by Captain Byron Watson and His Flamethrower of Death." It involves Byron, matches, a toilet and toy soldiers. Eventually Byron's juvenile delinquent ways force his parents to play hardball and he's taken to his Grandmother's house in Birmingham. That's when this family that we have fallen in love with gets wrapped up in one of the darkest events of the Civil Rights era. Because we are so firmly attached to the Watson's we walk into the events of 1963 and feel the intensity and pain just as they do. This sense of deep empathy is what makes this book stay firmly fixed in the minds of those who have read it. Read it and you will understand why Christopher Paul Curtis is one of the best authors writing for kids today.

Dec 18, 2014

This is a great book. There are not that many civil-rights related topics in it, but a bunch of wonderful short stories.

Sheneatha1 Oct 18, 2014

Curtis does a wonderful job of touching upon serious issues, such as surviving an older brother, being picked on at school, and experiencing racism while entertaining the reader with his great sense of humor. I laughed out loud several times.Great combination of humor and exposure to an important part of American history.

Demigod4Ever Jul 16, 2014

Tots hilarious

obaidurrahman Mar 15, 2014

Read with my class really good book

Besiana123 Oct 21, 2013

I really liked this book when I read it but was confused about what happened after one of the kids starts to drowned and then sees his sister under water

natalie_g Oct 05, 2013

The Weird Watsons star in this story of family and racial upheaval. The Watsons are like any other family in 1963 America. Byron, Joetta, and Kenny (our narrator) live in Flint, Michigan with their parents. The first half of the book paints them perfectly-from the middle child, Kenny, to the "juvenile delinquent", Byron. And after a series of behavior missteps by the eldest Watson, they embark on a trip South to visit Grandma Sands.
The Watson's Go to Birmingham is the perfect introduction to the Civil Rights era for children.

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Apr 14, 2018

thevales thinks this title is suitable for 9 years and over

Jan 19, 2018

red_hawk_1161 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 8 and 41

blue_alligator_8813 thinks this title is suitable for 6 years and over

Mar 13, 2016

black_porcupine_26 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 10 and 10

Apr 26, 2015

red_lion_1694 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 62 and 8

red_elephant_652 Aug 08, 2014

red_elephant_652 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 9 and 12

Apr 23, 2014

bahadurs thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

blue_butterfly_805 Jul 29, 2012

blue_butterfly_805 thinks this title is suitable for All Ages

kyle64star Jul 25, 2012

kyle64star thinks this title is suitable for All Ages

Jun 10, 2012

blue_bird_951 thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

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lms May 01, 2008

"Kenny's family is known in Flint, Michigan, as the Watsons, for lots of good reasons. Younger sister Joetta has been led to believe she has to be overdressed in the winter because Southern folks (their mother is from Alabama) freeze solid and have to be picked up by the city garbage trucks. Kenny, the narrator, does well in school and tries to meet his hardworking parents' expectations. Since the story is set in 1963, the family must make careful preparations for their trip, for they count on food or housing being available on the road once they cross into the South. the slow suspence of life has a beneficial effect on all of the children until the fateful day when a local church is bombed and Kenny runs in to look for his sister." (Novelist Review)


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Sep 23, 2013

Other: Release date September 20, 2013 (USA)


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kyle64star Jul 25, 2012

then suddenly i cound see that there was someone else in the water and wool pooh was pulling me right toward them.

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