Author: Christopher Paul Curtis
Publisher and Year: Delacorte Books, 1999
Number of pages: 243
Genre: Historical Fiction
Descriptive Annotation: Bud Caldwell has lived in orphanages and foster homes since the death of his mother when he was six years old. In 1936, at the age of ten, Bud decides to leave his foster home and set out in search of his father, who is believed to be famous jazz bandleader Herman E. Calloway. Bud quickly learns about life in Michigan during the Great Depression, but fear, hunger, and people are not going to stop him. However, Bud has several fun adventures and run ins with kind people, who help him along his journey. When Bud finally meets his father, he is not what Bud expected or dreamed of. Despite this disappointing meeting, Bud prevails and finds a silver lining. He finds the place where he belongs, his home, with someone even more compassionate and loving than his father. This book is the winner of two prestigious awards: the John Newberry Medal and the Coretta Scott King Award. It deserves both of them. Students will need some background information on the Great Depression and the setting before reading this book.
Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: You could use this book to discuss how life was different for different classes of people during the Great Depression, specifically the hardships people faced and the sacrifices people had to make. Each chapter is short and the book is a fast read. The text is a little more advanced, but not too difficult, which would make this book a good fit for upper elementary and middle school students.
Interdisciplinary Connections: You could get a class set of this book and do both a reading and social science unit around it. You could have your students complete research on the Great Depression, specifically what it was like for children growing up during this time, and compare and contrast other children to Bud.
Other Information: This book is a great read. I first read it in junior high and enjoyed reading it even more the second time around. I have even seen some of my fifth graders reading this book. While reading, you could give your students a map of Michigan and have them map Bud’s journey from start to finish. If students enjoy this book, they may also enjoy reading The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963, also written by Christopher Paul Curtis.