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Bud, Not Buddy

Last updated Friday, July 20, 2007

Author: Christopher Paul Curtis
Date of Publication: 1999
ISBN: 0385323069
Grade Level: 5th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Jan. 2006

Synopsis: Curtis draws on a remarkable and disarming mix of comedy and pathos to describe the travails and adventures of a 10-year-old African-American orphan in Depression-era Michigan. Bud is fed up with the cruel treatment he has received at various foster homes, and after being locked up for the night in a shed with a swarm of angry hornets, he decides to run away. His goal: to reach the man he, on the flimsiest of evidence, believes to be his father, jazz musician Herman E. Calloway. Relying on his own ingenuity and good luck, Bud makes it to Grand Rapids, where his "father" owns a club. Calloway, who is much older and grouchier than Bud imagined, is none too thrilled to meet a boy claiming to be his long-lost son. It is the other members of his band, Steady Eddie, Mr. Jimmy, Doug the Thug, Doo-Doo Bug Cross, Dirty Deed Breed and motherly Miss Thomas, who make Bud feel like he has finally arrived home. While the grim conditions of the times and the harshness of Bud's circumstances are authentically depicted, Curtis shines on them an aura of hope and optimism. And even when he sets up a daunting scenario, he makes readers laugh, for example, mopping floors for the rejecting Calloway, Bud pretends the mop is "that underwater boat in the book Momma read to me, Twenty Thousand Leaks Under the Sea."

Note to readers:
•  This is a chapter book that you won?t be able to finish. Aim to read through the end of chapter 4 (although you do not need to reach that point), and tell the children that the book will be placed into their library if they would like to check it out and read the rest.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Looking at the cover of the book, what do you think it?s about?
•  The book is set in 1936, in Flint, Michigan. Find that location on a map.
•  What do you know about the Depression, and what was happening in 1936 in the US?
•  The main character lives in an orphanage in the beginning of the story. What do you think that would be like?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Chapter 1
•  Why do you think Bud says it?s important to call him Bud, not Buddy?
•  Why is Bud unhappy about being placed in a foster home?
•  Do you agree that six is a really tough age? Why or why not?
•  What does Bud keep in his suitcase? Why are those items important to him? What would you keep?
•  Why does Bud say ?Here we go again? - what do you think has happened in the past?
•  Chapter 2
•  Why do you think Todd was hitting Bud?
•  What is one of Bud Caldwell?s Rules and Things for Having a Funner Life and Making a Better Liar Out of Yourself? What would be one of your rules?
•  What do you think it?s like for Todd to have Bud come into his house? Do you think you would have reacted the same or differently?
•  Why did Bud apologize? Would you have?
•  Have you ever done anything like Rule # 118?
•  What do you think is going to happen in the shed?
•  Chapter 3
•  Have you ever had the experience that things look differently, and more scary, in the dark?
•  How did Bugs get his name?
•  What was the Vampire Bat?
•  What do you think that Bud is going to do back in the house?
•  Chapter 4
•  What is Bud going to do with the shotgun?
•  How is he going to make it so that no other kids go to the Amoses?
•  How did Bud get his revenge?
•  Where do you think Bud is going to go next? What do you think is going to happen next?

Craft ideas:
•  Make a flier that would feature your parents. What would it advertise them as doing?
•  Make your own Rules and Things for Having a Funner Life and Making a Better Liar out of Yourself. What are the rules you live by?

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!