Martha Davis Beck
In Bud, Not Buddy, Curtis weaves elements of his family history into the tale, providing an after word about his two grandfathers...a big-band leader, and a baseball player in the Negro Leagues who are models for characters in the story. Curtis writes with humor and sensitivity and makes readers care about the characters he creates. In the process, he offers up a significant slice of American history.
A 10-year-old boy in Depression-era Michigan sets out to find the man he believes to be his father. "While the harshness of Bud's circumstances are authentically depicted, Curtis imbues them with an aura of hope, and he makes readers laugh even when he sets up the most daunting scenarios," said PW in our Best Books citation. Ages 9-12. (Jan.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
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.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
Children's book fans had a red-letter day when the Newbery Award was announced. Curtis' book follows a young African-American boy as he struggles to find a home during the Depression. The author takes on a difficult time and seemingly sad plot, but Bud, the hero, has humor and originality that will open new doors and understanding about this era. 1999, Delacorte, Ages 10 up, $15.95. Reviewer: Susie Wilde
Curtis's magical touch in his debut novel, The Watsons Go to Birmingham1963 (Delacorte, 1995), is once again evident in all its powerful, funny glory in his latest lovely novel. Tenyearold Bud Caldwell, wise beyond his years, is hit particularly hard by the Depression in 1936. Bud has been bounced back and forth between a Flint, Michigan, orphanage and foster care since his mother died when he was six. Fed up with beatings from those who take him in, Bud grabs his few meager treasures and sets out in search of his father. With determination and a cautious but curious spirit, Bud heads for Grand Rapids, home of Herman E. Calloway, legendary bass player and leader of a renowned jazz band. Convinced that Calloway is his longlost father, Bud seeks a reunion. Bud's only guidebook is Bud Caldwell's Rules and Things for Having a Funner Life and Making a Better Liar out of Yourself, his own set of poignant, riotous tips for preserving sanity. In a scene of stunning hilarity, Bud is rescued by Lefty Lewis, who takes Bud to Grand Rapids, where the child learns yet again that life is not always what it seems. Curtis writes with a razorsharp intelligence that grabs the reader by the heart and never lets go. His utterly believable depiction of the selfreliant charm and courage of Bud, not Buddy, puts this highlyrecommended title at the top of the list of books to be read again and again. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P M J (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 1999, Delacorte, Ages 12 to 15, 272p, $15.95. Reviewer: Beth E. Andersen
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
It has really been hard for Bud since his Mama died--one foster home after another. When he runs away from a family that really mistreats him, all he knows is that his long lost father must be the famed jazz musician Herman E. Calloway. Otherwise, why would his Mama have kept the posters? Good luck and friendly folk help Bud reach Mr. Calloway, but his supposed daddy is none too welcoming. The band members and vocalist are just the opposite. Bud is a spunky and likable kid, and this book has a fairy tale ending--it all works out for Bud and readers are left with a truly warm and happy feeling. However, the hard times during the Depression and especially the difficulties faced by African Americans are not ignored. A fast read for individual readers and a great book to read aloud.
Gr 4-7-Motherless Bud shares his amusingly astute rules of life as he hits the road to find the jazz musician he believes is his father. A medley of characters brings Depression-era Michigan to life. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-When 10-year-old Bud Caldwell runs away from his new foster home, he realizes he has nowhere to go but to search for the father he has never known: a legendary jazz musician advertised on some old posters his deceased mother had kept. A friendly stranger picks him up on the road in the middle of the night and deposits him in Grand Rapids, MI, with Herman E. Calloway and his jazz band, but the man Bud was convinced was his father turns out to be old, cold, and cantankerous. Luckily, the band members are more welcoming; they take him in, put him to work, and begin to teach him to play an instrument. In a Victorian ending, Bud uses the rocks he has treasured from his childhood to prove his surprising relationship with Mr. Calloway. The lively humor contrasts with the grim details of the Depression-era setting and the particular difficulties faced by African Americans at that time. Bud is a plucky, engaging protagonist. Other characters are exaggerations: the good ones (the librarian and Pullman car porter who help him on his journey and the band members who embrace him) are totally open and supportive, while the villainous foster family finds particularly imaginative ways to torture their charge. However, readers will be so caught up in the adventure that they won't mind. Curtis has given a fresh, new look to a traditional orphan-finds-a-home story that would be a crackerjack read-aloud.-Kathleen Isaacs, Edmund Burke School, Washington, DC Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Trudy C. Palmer
The book is a gem, of value to all ages, not just the young people to whom it is aimed.
The Christian Science Monitor
Children's Literature - Jeanna Sciarrotta
In Flint, Michigan at the height of the Great Depression, Bud is on his own with his suitcase full of memories. After being placed and subsequently mistreated, once again in foster care, he has decided that he has had enough of the system and takes his future into his own hands. His late momma may never have told him who his father is, but she left flyers advertising the famous musician, Herman E. Calloway, and Bud sets off on a quest to find him. His journey brings him into contact with the harsh realities and struggles of the time, but Bud refuses to give in. His perseverance and positive attitude when he has no one but himself to believe in will have readers young and old rooting for him, as he seeks out knowledge, love, and a sense of belonging in a world that seems to have abandoned him. A perfect companion for any middle school history class or a stand-alone novel, Bud’s adventure is and will continue to be a classic for generations to come. Reviewer: Jeanna Sciarrotta; Ages 10 up.
Read an Excerpt
HERE WE GO AGAIN.
We were all standing in line waiting for breakfast when one of the caseworkers cam in an tap-tap-taped down the line. Uh-oh, this meant bad news, either they'd found a foster home for somebody or somebody was about to be paddled. All the kids watched the woman as she moved along the line, her high-heeled shoes sounding like little firecrackers going off on the wooden floor.
Shoot! She stopped at me and said, "Are you Buddy Caldwell?"
I said, "It's Bud, not Buddy, ma'am."
She put her hand on my shoulder and took me out of line. Then she pulled Jerry, on of the littler boys, over. "Aren't you Jerry Clark?" He nodded.
"Boys, good news! Now that the school year has ended, you both have been accepted in new temporary-care homes starting this afternoon!"
Jerry asked me the same thing I was thinking. "Together?"
She said, "why, no. Jerry, you'll be in a family with three little girls--"
Jerry looked like he'd just found out that they were going to dip him in a pot of boiling milk.
"-- and Bud--" She looked at some papers she was holding. "Oh, yes, the Amoses, you'll be with Mr. And Mrs. Amos and their son, who's twelve years old, that makes him just two years older than you, doesn't it, Bud?"
She said, "I'm sure you'll both be very happy."
Me and Jerry looked at each other.
The woman said "Now, now, boys, no need to look so glum. I know you don't know what it means, but there is a depression going on all over this country. People can't find jobs and these are very, very difficult times for everybody. We've been lucky enough to find two wonderful families to open their doors for you. I think it's best that we show our new foster families that we're very--"
She dragged out the word very, waiting for us to finish the sentence.
Jerry said, "Cheerful, helpful and grateful." I moved my lips and mumbled.
She smiled and said, "Unfortunately you won't have time for breakfast. I'll have a couple of pieces of fruit put in a bag. In the meantime got to the sleep room and strip your beds and gather all of your things."
Here we go again. I felt that I as walking in my sleep as I followed Jerry back to the room where all of the boys' beds were jim-jammed together. This was the third foster home I was going to and I'm used to packing up and leaving, but it still surprises me that there are always a few seconds, right after they tell you you've got to go, when my nose gets all runny and my throat all choky and eyes get all sting-y. But the tears coming out doesn't happen to me anymore. I don't know when it first happened, but it seems like my eyes don't cry no more.
Jerry sat on his bed and I could tell that he was losing the fight not to cry. Tears were popping out of his eyes and slipping down his cheeks.
I sat down next to him and said, "I know being in a house with three girls sounds terrible, Jerry, but it's a lot better than being with a boy who's a couple of years older than you. I'm the one who's going to have problems. A older boy is going to want to fight, but those little girls are going to treat you real good. They're going to treat you like some kind of special pet or something."
Jerry said, "You really think so?"
I said, "I'd trade you in a minute. The worst thing that is going to happen to you is that they are going to make you play house a lot. They'll probably make you be the baby and will hug you and do this kind of junk to you." I tickled Jerry under his chin and said, "Ga-ga, goo-goo, baby-waby."
Jerry couldn't help but smile. I said, "You're going to be great."
Jerry looked like he wasn't so scared anymore so I went over to my bed and started getting ready.
Even though it was me that was in a lot of trouble I couldn't help but feel sorry for Jerry. Not only because he was going to have to live around three girls, but also because being six is a real tough age to be at. Most folks think you start being a real adult when you're fifteen or sixteen years old, but that's not true, it really starts when you're around six.
It's at six that grown folks don't think you're a cute little kid anymore, they talk to you and expect that you understand everything that they mean. And you'd best understand too, if you aren't looking for some real trouble, 'cause its around six that grown folks stop giving you little swats and taps and jump clean up to giving you slugs that'll knock you right down and have you seeing stars in the middle of the day. The first foster home I was in taught me that real quick.
Six is a bad time too 'cause that's when some real scary things start to happen to your body, it's around then that your teeth start coming a-loose in your mouth.
You wake up one morning and it seems like your tongue is the first one to notice that something strange is going on, ' cause as soon as you get up there it is pushing and rubbing up against one of your front teeth and I'll be doggoned if that tooth isn't the littlest bit wiggly.
At first you think it's kind of funny, but the tooth keeps getting looser and looser and one day, in the middle of pushing the tooth back and forth and squinching your eyes shut, you pull it clean out. It's the scariest thing you can think of 'cause you lose control of your tongue at the same time and no matter how hard you try to stop it, it won't the new hole in rout mouth alone, it keeps digging around in the spot where the tooth used to be.
You tell some adult about what's happening but they do is say it's normal. You can't be too sure, though, 'cause it shakes you up a whole lot more than grown folks think it does when perfectly good parts of your body commence to loosening up and falling off of you
Unless you're as stupid as a lamppost you've got to wonder what's coming off next, your arm? Your leg? Your neck? Every morning when you wake up it seems a lot of your parts aren't stuck on as good as they used to be.
Six is real tough. That's how old I was when I came to live here in the Home. That's how old I was when Momma died.
I folded the blanket and sheet and set them back on the mattress. Then I reached under the bed to get my suitcase. Most of the kids in the Home keep their things in a paper or cloth sack, but not me. I have my own suitcase.
I set it on the mattress and untied the twine that held it together. I did what I do every night before I go to sleep. I checked to make sure that everything was there. The way there're more and more kids coming into the Home every day, I had to be sure no one had run off with any of my things.
First I pulled my blanket out and saw that everything was where it was supposed to be. At the bottom of my suitcase were my flyers. I took the blue flyer out and looked at it again.
The paper was starting to wear out from me looking at it so much but I liked to check if there was anything that I hadn't noticed before. It was like something was telling me there was a message for me on this flyer but I didn't have the decoder ring to read what was.
Across the top of the flyer writ in big black letters were the words LIMITED ENGAGEMENT, then in little letters it said, "Direct from an S.R.O. engagement in New York City." Underneath that in big letters again it said, "Herman E. Calloway and the Ducky Devastators of the Depression!!!!!!"
Those six exclamation points made it seem like this was the most important news anyone could think of, seems like you'd have to be really great to deserve all of those exclamation points all stacked up in a row like that.
Next the paper said, "Masters of the New Jazz," then in the middle of the flyer was a blurry picture of the man I have a real good suspicion about. I've never met him, but I have a pretty good feeling that this guy must be my father.
In the picture he's standing next to t giant fiddle that's taller than him. It looks like it's real heavy 'cause he's leaning up against it trying to hold it up. He looks like he's been doing this for a long time and he must be tired 'cause he has a droopy, dreamy look on his face. There are two men beside him, one playing drums and the other one blowing a horn.
It wasn't hard to see what the guy must be my father was like just by looking at his picture. You could tell her was a real quiet, real friendly and smart man, he had one of those kinds of faces. Underneath the picture someone had writ with a black fountain pen, "One Night Only in Flint, Michigan, at the Luxurious Fifty Grand on Saturday June 16, 1932. 9 Until ?"
I remember Momma bringing this flyer with her when she came from working one day, I remember because she got very upset when she put it on the supper table and kept looking at it and picking it up and putting it back and moving it around. I was only six then and couldn't understand why this one got her so upset, she kept four others that were a lot like it in her dressing table, but this one really got her jumpy. The only difference I could see between the blue one and the others was that the others didn't say anything about Flint on them.
I remember this blue one too 'cause it wasn't too long after she brought it home that I knocked on Momma's bedroom door, then found her.
I put the flyer back in the suitcase with the four older one and put everything back in its place.
I went over to the big chest of drawers and took my other set of clothes our and put them in the suitcase too. I tied the twine back around my bag, then went and sat on Jerry's bed with him. Jerry must've been thinking just as hard as I was 'cause neither one of said nothing, we just sat close enough so that our shoulders were touching.
Here we go again.
From the Hardcover edition.