Reviews for Bud, Not Buddy


The Book Report Reviews 2000 January-February
This well-written novel tells the story of Bud, a 10-year-old boy searching for "his place" and his family in the 1930s. Curtis, who is the author of The Watsons Go to Birmingham (Delacorte, 1995), has created a story that is adventurous, touching, funny, and heartwarming all in one. Bud has been living in an orphanage since his mother died when he was six. The boy bases all his decisions on his "rules and things to have a funner life and make a better liar out of yourself." Everywhere he goes, he carries his suitcase full of clues about his family that he got from his mother. His expressions are comical and mature for his 10 years. After a disastrous situation in a foster home, Bud decides to find his real father. His journey takes him to what turns out to be his grandfather's hometown and his band. He comes across danger, fun, sadness, and, eventually, true happiness. At the end of the book, the author explains that the story is based on some of the characters in his own family and includes pictures of them. This is a fine, truly enjoyable story written about the Depression era. It has a little something for everyone and would make a good classroom read-aloud. Highly Recommended. Melinda Miller-Widrick, K-12 Library Media Specialist, Colton-Pierrepont Central School, Colton, New York Editor's Note: See the review in January/February LIBRARY TALK of Classroom Connect's online activity book series "100 Activities for the Online Classroom." It is available in three editions: Primary (K-2), Intermediate (3-5), and Middle School (6-8) © 2000 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

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Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 September 1999
Gr. 4^-6. Bud, 10, is on the run from the orphanage and from yet another mean foster family. His mother died when he was 6, and he wants to find his father. Set in Michigan during the Great Depression, this is an Oliver Twist kind of foundling story, but it's told with affectionate comedy, like the first part of Curtis' The Watsons Go to Birmingham (1995). On his journey, Bud finds danger and violence (most of it treated as farce), but more often, he finds kindness--in the food line, in the library, in the Hooverville squatter camp, on the road--until he discovers who he is and where he belongs. Told in the boy's naive, desperate voice, with lots of examples of his survival tactics ("Rules and Things for Having a Funner Life and Making a Better Liar out of Yourself"), this will make a great read-aloud. Curtis says in an afterword that some of the characters are based on real people, including his own grandfathers, so it's not surprising that the rich blend of tall tale, slapstick, sorrow, and sweetness has the wry, teasing warmth of family folklore. ((Reviewed September 1, 1999)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2000 Spring
It's the Depression, and Bud is ten and has been in and out of the Flint, Michigan, children's home and foster homes since his mother died. After a particularly terrible, though riotously recounted, evening with his latest foster family, Bud decides to take off and find the man he believes is his father, bandleader Herman E. Calloway. Bud's fresh voice keeps the sentimentality to a minimum, and the story zips along in step with Bud's own panache.Copyright 2000 Horn Book Guide Reviews

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 1999 #6
In a story that's as far-fetched as it is irresistible, and as classic as it is immediate, a deserving orphan boy finds a home. It's the Depression, and Bud (not Buddy) is ten and has been on his own since his mother died when he was six. In and out of the Flint, Michigan, children's home and foster homes ever since, Bud decides to take off and find his father after a particularly terrible, though riotously recounted, evening with his latest foster family. Helped only by a few clues his mother left him, and his own mental list of "Rules and Things for Having a Funner Life and Making a Better Liar Out of Yourself," Bud makes his way to a food pantry, then to the library to do some research (only to find that his beloved librarian, one Charlemae Rollins, has moved to Chicago), and finally to the local Hooverville where he just misses hopping a freight to Chicago. Undaunted, he decides to walk to Grand Rapids, where he hopes his father, the bandleader Herman E. Calloway, will be. Lefty Lewis, the kindly union man who gives Bud a lift, is not the first benevolent presence to help the boy on his way, nor will he be the last. There's a bit of the Little Rascals in Bud, and a bit more of Shirley Temple as his kind heart and ingenuous ways bring tears to the eyes of the crustiest of old men-not his father, but close enough. But Bud's fresh voice keeps the senti-mentality to a reasonable simmer, and the story zips along in step with Bud's own panache. r.s. Copyright 1999 Horn Book Reviews

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Library Journal Reviews 1999 December #1
Gr 4-7-Motherless Bud shares his amusingly astute rules of life as he hits the road to find the jazz musician he believes is his father. A medley of characters brings Depression-era Michigan to life. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2002 January #1
A 10-year-old boy in Depression-era Michigan sets out to find the man he believes to be his father. "While the harshness of Bud's circumstances are authentically depicted, Curtis imbues them with an aura of hope, and he makes readers laugh even when he sets up the most daunting scenarios," said PW in our Best Books citation. Ages 9-12. (Jan.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 1999 August #2
As in his Newbery Honor-winning debut, The Watsons Go to Birmingham 1963, 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 he on the flimsiest of evidence believes 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 band Steady Eddie, Mr. Jimmy, Doug the Thug, Doo-Doo Bug Cross, Dirty Deed Breed and motherly Miss Thomas who 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 laugh for 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.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 1999 August #3
As in his Newbery Honor-winning debut, The Watsons Go to Birmingham 1963, 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 he on the flimsiest of evidence believes 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 band Steady Eddie, Mr. Jimmy, Doug the Thug, Doo-Doo Bug Cross, Dirty Deed Breed and motherly Miss Thomas who 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 laugh for 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.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 1999 September
Gr 4-7-When 10-year-old Bud Caldwell runs away from his new foster home, he realizes he has nowhere to go but to search for the father he has never known: a legendary jazz musician advertised on some old posters his deceased mother had kept. A friendly stranger picks him up on the road in the middle of the night and deposits him in Grand Rapids, MI, with Herman E. Calloway and his jazz band, but the man Bud was convinced was his father turns out to be old, cold, and cantankerous. Luckily, the band members are more welcoming; they take him in, put him to work, and begin to teach him to play an instrument. In a Victorian ending, Bud uses the rocks he has treasured from his childhood to prove his surprising relationship with Mr. Calloway. The lively humor contrasts with the grim details of the Depression-era setting and the particular difficulties faced by African Americans at that time. Bud is a plucky, engaging protagonist. Other characters are exaggerations: the good ones (the librarian and Pullman car porter who help him on his journey and the band members who embrace him) are totally open and supportive, while the villainous foster family finds particularly imaginative ways to torture their charge. However, readers will be so caught up in the adventure that they won't mind. Curtis has given a fresh, new look to a traditional orphan-finds-a-home story that would be a crackerjack read-aloud.-Kathleen Isaacs, Edmund Burke School, Washington, DC Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 1999 December
Gr 4-7-Motherless Bud shares his amusingly astute rules of life as he hits the road to find the jazz musician he believes is his father. A medley of characters brings Depression-era Michigan to life. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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VOYA Reviews 2000 February
Curtis's magical touch in his debut novel, The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963 (Delacorte, 1995), is once again evident in all its powerful, funny glory in his latest lovely novel. Ten-year-old Bud Caldwell, wise beyond his years, is hit particularlyhard by the Depression in 1936. Bud has been bounced back and forth between a Flint, Michigan, orphanage and foster care since his mother died when he was six. Fed up with beatings from those who take him in, Bud grabs his few meager treasures andsets out in search of his father. With determination and a cautious but curious spirit, Bud heads for Grand Rapids, home of Herman E. Calloway, legendary bass player and leader of a renowned jazz band. Convinced that Calloway is his long-lost father,Bud seeks a reunion. Bud's only guidebook is Bud Caldwell's Rules and Things for Having a Funner Life and Making a Better Liar out of Yourself, his own set of poignant, riotous tips for preserving sanity. In a scene of stunning hilarity, Bud isrescued by Lefty Lewis, who takes Bud to Grand Rapids, where the child learns yet again that life is not always what it seems. Curtis writes with a razor-sharp intelligence that grabs the reader by the heart and never lets go. His utterly believable depiction of the self-reliant charm and courage of Bud, not Buddy, puts this highly-recommended title at the top of the listof books to be read again and again.-Beth E. Andersen. Copyright 2000 Voya Reviews

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