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Condition: Used: Good
Comment: This item is in good condition. All pages and covers are readable. There are no stains or tears. Dust jacket is present if applicable. May contain small amounts of writing and/or highlighting. Spine and cover may show signs of wear. May not contain supplementary items. We ship within 1 business day. Big Hearted Books shares its profits with schools, churches and non-profit groups throughout New England. Thank you for your support!
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The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963 Paperback – September 8, 1997

4.5 out of 5 stars 1,054 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"An exceptional first novel."
Publishers Weekly, Starred, Boxed Review

"Superb . . . a warmly memorable evocation of an African American family." —The Horn Book Magazine, Starred

"Marvelous . . . both comic and deeply moving."
The New York Times Book Review

"Ribald humor . . . and a totally believable child's view of the world will make this book an instant hit."—School Library Journal, Starred --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Amazon.com Review

The year is 1963, and self-important Byron Watson is the bane of his younger brother Kenny's existence. Constantly in trouble for one thing or another, from straightening his hair into a "conk" to lighting fires to freezing his lips to the mirror of the new family car, Byron finally pushes his family too far. Before this "official juvenile delinquent" can cut school or steal change one more time, Momma and Dad finally make good on their threat to send him to the deep south to spend the summer with his tiny, strict grandmother. Soon the whole family is packed up, ready to make the drive from Flint, Michigan, straight into one of the most chilling moments in America's history: the burning of the Sixteenth Avenue Baptist Church with four little girls inside.

Christopher Paul Curtis's alternately hilarious and deeply moving novel, winner of the Newbery Honor and the Coretta Scott King Honor, blends the fictional account of an African American family with the factual events of the violent summer of 1963. Fourth grader Kenny is an innocent and sincere narrator; his ingenuousness lends authenticity to the story and invites readers of all ages into his world, even as it changes before his eyes. Curtis is also the acclaimed author of Bud, Not Buddy, winner of the Newbery Medal. (Ages 9 to 12) --Emilie Coulter --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 210 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling (September 8, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440414121
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440414124
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,054 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #259,203 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
I bought a whole set of the Watson's Go To Birmingham to share with my students. Knowing it was an award winner and covered the topic of racism, I was counting on a delightful read. By the end of the first chapter, I felt like I had a gem. The writer is clearly a master story teller. I laughed along with the characters as the two brothers and little sister tortured, tricked, and mocked one another in the typical way siblings do. I loved Mamma and Daddy's playful comments and the way the entire family was portrayed as colorful, real, and multidimensional.

Therefore, it may surprise you that I don't read this book in class. I was overwhelmed and disappointed that a gifted writer chose to use so many curses throughout the book and so many sensitive topics. There are over ten examples of the children using foul language. Two ten year old boys get excited about going to the club house to look at books of 'nekkid' ladies and remark that the older brother keeps some copies of such materials in his own bedroom for he and his friends. Also, Dad puts his hand on mom's chest when he think his children don't see (which Kenny does).

I'm a teacher. I work with children every day. I'm not blind to the fact the our children see these things on TV, encounter them in the home, and even come across them on the school field. However, as one who believes we should do better by our children, I am disappointed by the material Curtis has chosen to include in his work. Seeing descriptions in print and visualizing the pictures in the mind (which is a great aspect of books) is very powerful - even more so, I believe, than on TV, which children have learned to tune out. As an educator, I refuse to have my students visualize the things Curtis includes.

Too bad because it would have been a great book.
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Format: Paperback
The Watsons Go to Birmingham -1963 By:Christopher PaulCurtis
If you're looking for a great book that you never want toput down, The Watsons Go to Birmingham is perfect. It is written by Christopher Paul Curtis. It's full of adventure, comedy, and tragedy. This book is based on the life of a black family in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement. The book is narrated by one of the young family members, Kenny.
The family goes through many problems with Kenny's big brother Byron. Byron thinks he's so cool and thinks he can do whatever he wants including dying his hair, play with matches, and he does other stuff like kissing himself in the mirror. Kenny also has a mom who is very strict and a dad who is always positive. One more family member is Joetta. She is Kenny's younger sister and is very caring.One of the things we really enjoyed about this book was, that the author really expresses the character's characteristics.
The theme of this story is based on the Civil Rights Movement and family. The book goes through problems in both of these categories. Such as, bombings during the Civil Rights Movement, problems with Byron and Kenny, and so many more usual, and some unusual, problems. Many of the Watson family members change during the story. An example of this is, Byron changed from a disobedient child, to a mature, young man full of respect. The theme of this book really expresses the authors feelings on family and the Civil Rights Movement. Christopher Paul Curtis is a great author and uses many different "secrets" to make his writing as good as it is. First of all, he tells things like they are. There isn't any fantasy in this book and you can relate to the story. The Watsons are just like any family. They go through difficult times and good times.
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Format: School & Library Binding
In 1963, I was a white kid attending a predominantly black junior high school in Seattle. "The Watson's Go To Birmingham-1963" rings true to what I saw and experienced in those days.
It's true that this story doesn't have much of a plot in the usual sense, but then how many families have lives that are neatly plotted out? Instead we see episodes in the life of nerdish Kenny Watson, his older brother Byron who is always getting into trouble, his little sister "Joey" who is a little angel, their Momma who still has some of the old South in her, and Dad, a loving, but sometimes stern, man.
This is an important piece of historical fiction. It shows an intact African-American family, struggling with many of the same things families of other races were dealing with in those days, however one is given a taste of their fear of racial violence as Momma and Dad plan--and take--their trip into the deep South to visit Grandma Sands during those turbulent times.
This is an important book, but one I can only recommend with reservations. Some of the situations, and more especially some of the crude language used by Byron and his friends, would cause me to give it a PG rating. I think it's unfortunate that some authors of children's books think it's OK to use language that most educators are otherwise discouraging students from using.
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Format: Paperback
The Watsons Go To Birmingham-1963 is an awesome book. The story is told by the eyes of a boy named Kenneth Watson. He and his family, Byron, Joetta, mom and dad live in freezing Flint. They decide to go to Birmingham because of Byron's behavior. Byron was pretending to make a movie called Nazi Parachutes Attack America and Get Shot Down over the Flint River by Captain Byron Watson and his Flame-thrower of Death. He made a lot of toilet paper parachutes and would light them with matches and then drop them into the toilet and hear the go whoosh when it hit the water. The main setting in this book is in Birmingham and in the Watson's house. While at Birmingham the kids learned a lot about the cruel world back then. One of the things that they learned was that some and most whites hate black and will do anything to stop them from getting a good education. Even blow them up if that is a choice. Which it was a choice during the Civil Rights movement. One day when Joey was going to Sunday school, she got there and decided not to go since it was so hot. A couple of minutes later a group of white men drove by and threw a bomb into the church and injured and killed many little kids. This book was an awesome book and I recommend this book to everyone young to old. I feel that it would be a great thing for people to read it was funny, sad, and happy and almost every emotion you could think of. I hope you get something out of this review and enjoy this book as much as I did.
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