04 April 2014

Bud, Not Buddy: 2000 Newbery Award Winner

The beginning of March 2014 I started a new undertaking: reading every single Newbery Medal Winner book. A number of them I have read in the past, but I am reading them with fresh eyes,and reviewing them for others. I am not reading them in order, as some will require some effort on my part to find them all.  Want to keep track of which books I read?  Check them out at Confessions of a Wannabe Reader!

Bud, Not Buddy.jpg
Cover of the book - The image is used for identification purposes only under the fair use clause.

Bud Caldwell: The Boy on the Lam

"Rules and Things Number 39: The Older You Get the Worse Something Has to Be to Make You Cry"

At the height of the Great Depression, orphaned Bud Caldwell is ten years old and has lived in a number of different foster homes.   At least he did until he picked a fight with a foster brother and ran away.  His mother died when he was 6, and he doesn't know anything about his father, save that he was a musician, perhaps the famous musician Herman Calloway.  His mother had several flyers of Herman's bands. Carrying everything he owns in a beat up suitcase that he has to close with a piece of rope, Bud decides to head 120 miles on foot to Grand Rapids, Michigan, which is where Herman Calloway lives.  Along the way, he discovers that the rules he has established in his young life ring true, and that family is something that is made by more than just the bonds of blood.

I have read Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis several times, and the short book is very touching.  Its a story of longing and belonging.  Bud longs for his lost mother.  Herman Calloway longs for his lost daughter.  It is also a story of growing up in a very trying time, as the Great Depression touched many lives in very hard ways. Children were forced to grow up faster and accept responsibilities for themselves even when they were not mature enough to do so.  Unlike other books I had read about the Great Depression, like Moon over Manifest and No Promises in the Wind by Irene Hunt , this one was unique in that it was told from the viewpoint of an African American child instead.

Just as the story of the Great Depression was not neatly resolved, the ending of this novel is not resolved in a neat and tidy ending, but one is left hoping that there are good things coming to Bud.

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