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The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963
Cover of The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963
The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963
Celebrate the 25th anniversary of this Newbery and Coretta Scott King Honoree about a hilarious family on a road-trip at one of the most important times in America's history. This special edition makes a perfect gift and includes bonus content!
Enter the hilarious world of ten-year-old Kenny and his family, the Weird Watsons of Flint, Michigan. There's Momma, Dad, little sister Joetta, and brother Byron, who's thirteen and an "official juvenile delinquent."
When Byron gets to be too much trouble, they head South to Birmingham to visit Grandma, the one person who can shape him up. And they'll be in Birmingham during one of the darkest moments in America's history.
"Every so often a book becomes a modern classic almost as soon as it arrives on bookshelves. That happened in the mid-'90s when Christopher Paul Curtis released his first book, The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963." —NPR
"One of the best novels EVER." —Jacqueline Woodson, Newbery Honor and National Book Award–winning author of Brown Girl Dreaming
Celebrate the 25th anniversary of this Newbery and Coretta Scott King Honoree about a hilarious family on a road-trip at one of the most important times in America's history. This special edition makes a perfect gift and includes bonus content!
Enter the hilarious world of ten-year-old Kenny and his family, the Weird Watsons of Flint, Michigan. There's Momma, Dad, little sister Joetta, and brother Byron, who's thirteen and an "official juvenile delinquent."
When Byron gets to be too much trouble, they head South to Birmingham to visit Grandma, the one person who can shape him up. And they'll be in Birmingham during one of the darkest moments in America's history.
"Every so often a book becomes a modern classic almost as soon as it arrives on bookshelves. That happened in the mid-'90s when Christopher Paul Curtis released his first book, The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963." —NPR
"One of the best novels EVER." —Jacqueline Woodson, Newbery Honor and National Book Award–winning author of Brown Girl Dreaming
Available formats-
  • OverDrive Read
Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    0
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    5.0
  • Lexile:
    920
  • Interest Level:
    MG
  • Text Difficulty:
    4 - 5

Recommended for you

Excerpts-
  • From the book

    And You Wonder Why We Get Called the Weird WatsonsIt was one of those super-duper-cold Saturdays. One of those days that when you breathed out your breath kind of hung frozen in the air like a hunk of smoke and you could walk along and look exactly like a train blowing out big, fat, white puffs of smoke.

    It was so cold that if you were stupid enough to go outside your eyes would automatically blink a thousand times all by themselves, probably so the juice inside of them wouldn't freeze up. It was so cold that if you spit, the slob would be an ice cube before it hit the ground. It was about a zillion degrees below zero.

    It was even cold inside our house. We put sweaters and hats and scarves and three pairs of socks on and still were cold. The thermostat was turned all the way up and the furnace was banging and sounding like it was about to blow up but it still felt like Jack Frost had moved in with us.

    All of my family sat real close together on the couch under a blanket. Dad said this would generate a little heat but he didn't have to tell us this, it seemed like the cold automatically made us want to get together and huddle up. My little sister, Joetta, sat in the middle and all you could see were her eyes because she had a scarf wrapped around her head. I was next to her and on the outside was my mother.

    Momma was the only one who wasn't born in Flint so the cold was coldest to her. All you could see were her eyes too, and they were shooting bad looks at Dad. She always blamed him for bringing her all the way from Alabama to Michigan, a state she called a giant icebox. Dad was bundled next to Joey, trying to look at anything but Momma. Next to Dad, sitting with a little space between them, was my older brother, Byron.

    Byron had just turned thirteen so he was officially a teenage juvenile delinquent and didn't think it was "cool" to touch anybody or let anybody touch him, even if it meant he froze to death. Byron had tucked the blanket between him and Dad down into the cushion of the couch to make sure he couldn't be touched.

    Dad turned on the TV to try to make us forget how cold we were but all that did was get him in trouble. There was a special news report on Channel 12 telling how bad the weather was and Dad groaned when the guy said, "If you think it's cold now, wait until tonight, the temperature is expected to drop into record-low territory, possibly reaching the negative twenties! In fact, we won't be seeing anything above zero for the next four to five days!" He was smiling when he said this but none of the Watson family thought it was funny. We all looked over at Dad. He just shook his head and pulled the blanket over his eyes.

    Then the guy on the TV said, "Here's a little something we can use to brighten our spirits and give us some hope for the future: The temperature in Atlanta, Georgia is forecast to reach . . ." Dad coughed real loud and jumped off the couch to turn the TV off but we all heard the weatherman say, ". . . the mid-seventies!" The guy might as well have tied Dad to a tree and said, "Ready, aim, fire!"

    "Atlanta!" Momma said. "That's a hundred and fifty miles from home!"

    "Wilona . . . ," Dad said.

    "I knew it," Momma said. "I knew I should have listened to Moses Henderson!"

    "Who?" I asked.

    Dad said, "Oh Lord, not that sorry story. You've got to let me tell about what happened with him."

    Momma said, "There's not a whole lot to tell, just a story about a young girl who made a bad choice. But if you do tell it, make sure you get all the facts right."

    We all huddled as close as we could get because we knew Dad was going to try to make us forget about being...

About the Author-
  • Christopher Paul Curtis won the Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King Award for his bestselling second novel, Bud, Not Buddy. His first novel, The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963, was also singled out for many awards, and has been a bestseller in hardcover and paperback. His most recent novels for Random House include The Mighty Miss Malone, Mr. Chickee's Messy Mission, Mr. Chickee's Funny Money, and Bucking the Sarge.
    Christopher Paul Curtis grew up in Flint, Michigan. After high school he began working on the assembly line at the Fisher Body Plant No. 1 while attending the Flint branch of the University of Michigan. He is now a full-time writer, and lives with his family in Windsor, Ontario.
Reviews-
  • DOGO Books Mrs. Hardinger - This was one of our read aloud books in 4th grade this year. The kids absolutely loved it! The plot follows a family from Flint, Michigan in the year 1963. The majority of the book contains the ordinary and hilarious antics of "the weird Watsons." When the oldest brother, Byron, breaks the rules one more time, the family heads south to drop him of at his grandmother's in Birmingham. The ending gets so crazy that we decided to reread and discuss it several times. All in all, a fantastic piece of historical fiction.
  • The New York Times "Marvelous . . . both comic and deeply moving."
  • Kate DiCamillo, two-time Newbery Medalist "This is a book that changes lives. It certainly changed mine."
  • David Barclay Moore, winner of the Coretta Scott King John Steptoe Award for New Talent "I identify with so much in Christopher Paul Curtis's engrossing classic, The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963."
  • Publishers Weekly, starred review "An exceptional first novel."
  • The Horn Book Magazine, starred review "Superb . . . a warmly memorable evocation of an African American family."
  • School Library Journal, starred review "Ribald humor . . . and a totally believable child's view of the world will make this book an instant hit."
Title Information+
  • Publisher
    Random House Children's Books
  • OverDrive Read
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The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963
The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963
Christopher Paul Curtis
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