Tag Archives: runaway

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

17 Mar

Book Cover

This is the story of Bud Caldwell, an orphan living during the Great Depression. After much adversity and repeated abuse from his foster brother Todd Amos, Bud decides to runaway from his home in Flint, Michigan. He sets out to find Herman Calloway, a supposed relative. Along the way Bud befriends a railroad porter  named Lefty Lewis and Lewis offers a place for Bud to sleep. Bud eventually meets up with Herman Calloway and receives a cold welcome from Calloway. When Bud’s collection of rocks are discovered, Calloway believes that Bud has stolen them.

Insight:

This story is  emphasizes good prevails (even though it is not a realistic view), even in challenging times. This book is superb. I would use this as a read aloud in class as a way to discuss determination and strength in character. Bud, Not Buddy is the recipient of the Coretta Scott King award and also the recipient of the Newbery Medal. This title is a must for an elementary school’s library collection and an essential read for any elementary student.


Suggested Library Activity:

Have students create a class newspaper focusing on different aspects of the novel’s time period. Include information on homelessness, Jazz, the Great Depression, etc. Have students gather all their research and create a  newspaper to be displayed in the library for all to read.

Bibliographic Citation:

Curtis, C. (1999). Bud, not buddy. New York: Delacorte Press.

Additional Book Review:

As in his Newbery Honor-winning debut, The Watsons Go to Birmingham–1963, Curtis draws on a remarkable and disarming mix of comedy and pathos, this time 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.”” Bud’s journey, punctuated by Dickensian twists in plot and enlivened by a host of memorable personalities, will keep readers engrossed from first page to last. Ages 9-12. (Sept.)

Publisher’s Weekly. (1999, September 6). Book Review Bud, Not Buddy. Retrieved from  http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-385-32306-2

Horn Book (November/December, 1999)

In a story that’s as far-fetched as it is irresistible, and as classic as it is immediate, a deserving orphan boy finds a home. It’s the Depression, and Bud (not Buddy) is ten and has been on his own since his mother died when he was six. In and out of the Flint, Michigan, children’s home and foster homes ever since, Bud decides to take off and find his father after a particularly terrible, though riotously recounted, evening with his latest foster family. Helped only by a few clues his mother left him, and his own mental list of “Rules and Things for Having a Funner Life and Making a Better Liar Out of Yourself,” Bud makes his way to a food pantry, then to the library to do some research (only to find that his beloved librarian, one Charlemae Rollins, has moved to Chicago), and finally to the local Hooverville where he just misses hopping a freight to Chicago. Undaunted, he decides to walk to Grand Rapids, where he hopes his father, the bandleader Herman E. Calloway, will be. Lefty Lewis, the kindly union man who gives Bud a lift, is not the first benevolent presence to help the boy on his way, nor will he be the last. There’s a bit of the Little Rascals in Bud, and a bit more of Shirley Temple as his kind heart and ingenuous ways bring tears to the eyes of the crustiest of old men-not his father, but close enough. But Bud’s fresh voice keeps the senti-mentality to a reasonable simmer, and the story zips along in step with Bud’s own panache. r.s.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by El Konigsburg

17 Mar

Winner of the 1968 Newbery Medal

Every child dreams of an adventure and Claudia Kincaid sets out on a trip that will change her life. She decides to runaway from her home in Greenwich because…”She was the oldest child and the only girl and was subject to a lot of injustice.” Claudia Kincaid, an eleven year old girl, chooses to runaway to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She also decides to take her younger brother Jamie along. Kincaid methodically plans her adventure right down to the bus fare for her and her brother Jamie. While in the museum the two children’s curiosities are peaked when they view a sculpture of an angel thought to be created by Michelangelo himself. Lady Claudia and Sir James as the two refer to each other decide to discover the creator of the angelic scupture. After visits to the library Lady Claudia and Sir James find out the person that auctioned the sculpture is Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Claudia and James eventually solve the mystery and return safe and sound to their home with the help of Mrs. Frankweiler.

Insight: 

Having actually runaway as a child I understand what little Claudia must be feeling at the beginning of the story. Getting lost amid all your brothers and sisters does make one feel quite small. The author has taken that emotion and created an entire adventure that gives children experiencing that emotion a place to take solace. This book is mystery, adventure and a dash of glam. Who wouldn’t want to live in a museum-The New York Metropolitan museum at that? Somewhat of a bohemian lifestyle, taking bathes in the fountain. When can I sign up and hopefully I don’t have to pay rent! I have never been much of a mystery person, but surprisingly I thoroughly enjoyed this story.

Suggested Library Activity:

Have students create their own sculpture using clay.  Show an art documentary about famous sculptors.

Bibliographic Citation:

Konigsburg, E. (1967). From the mixed-up files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. New York: Atheneum.


Additional Book Review:

For 35 years, even readers who have never traveled to New York City have visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art, courtesy of Claudia Kincaid, heroine of From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg. Winner of the 1968 Newbery Medal, this novel charts one girl’s mission to run away from her straight-As life to somewhere beautiful-the Met. In the process, she becomes obsessed with uncovering the secrets of a breathtaking statue. A 35th-anniversary dust jacket and a new afterword by the author caps this adventure that has captivated readers for more than a quarter-century.

Publishers Weekly (November 11, 2002). Review of the book From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Retrieved from

http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-689-85322-7