Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bud, Not Buddy - a boy's search for his father (ages 8 -12)

Who chooses the books you read with your children? In my family, my kids take turns choosing the chapter book we listen to as we drive to school in the morning. But occasionally, truly occasionally, I get to choose the book. "Mommy's turn," I say. We just finished listening to a book that every child needs to read or listen to by the time they finish 6th grade. It's that good. Bud, Not Buddy won the Newbery Medal in 2000 and the 2000 Coretta Scott King Award recognizing African American authors. Carolyn S. Brodie, chair of the Newbery Award Selection Committee said that Bud, Not Buddy "resonates with both zest and tenderness as it entertains questions about racism, belonging, love, and hope."
Bud, Not Buddy
by Christopher Paul Curtis
narrated by James Avery
Listening Library, 2006
ages 8 - 12
available on Amazon, Audible and at your local library
Bud Caldwell has had it with foster homes. By the age ten, he observes, folks don’t treat you like a little kid anymore – they’re likely to set you straight with a blow to the head. Bud lives in Flint, Michigan, and all he has left of his late mother is a suitcase with posters of the jazz musician Herman E. Calloway. Christopher Paul Curtis mixes touching moments with full humor (especially Bud’s “Rules and Things for Having a Funner Life and Making a Better Liar out of Yourself”), as Bud travels to Grand Rapids, Michigan, in search of his father.

Set during the height of the Great Depression, Christopher Paul Curtis fills his story with details of African Americans living and surviving during these difficult times. Bud gives listeners insight into life in the Depression, from Hoovervilles to redcaps and Pullman porters.

Narrator James Avery creates a charming and sincere Bud. The cast of characters is full of variety, and the occasional jazz tune sets the mood perfectly. I particularly liked the author’s note at the end, where he shares his own family history and different jobs African Americans were able to pursue in the 1930s. This is a wonderful story for the whole family. My third and fifth grader were completely engrossed in it, and my kindergartner even enjoyed it.

We listened to a copy from our local library. If you make a purchase on Amazon using the links here, a small portion will go to Great Kid Books at no cost to you. Thank you for your support.

I'd also highly recommend The Watsons Go To Birmingham on audio - read by the wonderful Lavar Burton.


  1. My children and I have enjoyed several of Christopher Paul Curtis's stories as audio books. All of the narrators are terrific. We just finished Elijah of Buxton and thought it one of the best books we've "read." As usual, the characters are well-drawn and most human in their complexity, the humor is easy and natural, and the storyline keeps the reader interested from start to finish. Mr. Curtis is an excellent author for any age.

  2. thanks for your suggestion on this one...we're listening to it now! We're on the 2nd disc and all really enjoying it.

  3. My 10 yr. old is reading this book right now! I did a double take when I saw it here! Looks like one I should read, too! =)