The Watsons Go to Birmingham -1963 (paperback)
by Christopher Paul Curtis
In The Watsons Go to Birmingham, the Weird Watsons are an African-American family living in Flint, Michigan during 1963, at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. Kenny is the protagonist of the story, and the middle child. He has an older brother Byron who is called a delinquent, and a younger sister Joetta, who is compared to an angel. Each chapter tells a new story of how they are wacky, get into tough situations, or make their parents mad. Most of the story is humorous and highly entertaining, and we get to learn about life in Flint, life during the 1960s, and how many situations Kenny goes through parallel our own lives (as children). Then they travel to Birmingham to drop Byron off with their grandmother for the summer so she can attempt to straighten him out, and there is a church bombing. This is when things get a little strange… Kenny, it seems, goes into a depression, because he believed his sister was in the church and he saw the “Wool Pooh” (which might be Death?).
What I liked about this book was that for the most part, it was funny. Kenny has an interesting outlook on life, and he is a very good storyteller. It almost reminded me of “A Christmas Story” in the way he narrated from a bold point of view. I also appreciate that readers learn more about what life was like for an African American family during this time, including down south in Birmingham.
What I didn’t like about this book was that it was a bit unclear. I read this book aloud to my class, and most of my class thought Joetta died and we were reading about her ghost. Several thought Kenny died and his ghost saved her. I’m still not sure what saved Joetta- his love for her? That part was confusing.
Book 50 of 40
(Book 16 of 2018)