"It's funny how ideas are, in a lot of ways they're just like seeds. Both of them start real, real small and then... woop, zoop, sloop... before you can say Jack Robinson, they've gone and grown a lot bigger than you ever thought they could." So figures scrappy 10-year-old philosopher Bud--"not Buddy"--Caldwell, an orphan on the run from abusive foster homes and Hoovervilles in 1930s Michigan. And the idea that's planted itself in his head is that Herman E. Calloway, standup-bass player for the Dusky Devastators of the Depression, is his father.
Guided only by a flier for one of Calloway's shows--a small, blue poster that had mysteriously upset his mother shortly before she died--Bud sets off to track down his supposed dad, a man he's never laid eyes on. And, being 10, Bud-not-Buddy gets into all sorts of trouble along the way, barely escaping a monster-infested woodshed, stealing a vampire's car, and even getting tricked into "busting slob with a real live girl." Christopher Paul Curtis, author of The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963, once again exhibits his skill for capturing the language and feel of an era and creates an authentic, touching, often hilarious voice in little Bud. (Ages 8 to 12) --Paul Hughes
From Publishers Weekly
As in his Newbery Honor-winning debut, The Watsons Go to BirminghamA1963, 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 heAon the flimsiest of evidenceAbelieves 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 bandASteady Eddie, Mr. Jimmy, Doug the Thug, Doo-Doo Bug Cross, Dirty Deed Breed and motherly Miss ThomasAwho 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 laughAfor 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.)
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