Tiffany Cooke's Reviews > The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963

The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
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Jun 02, 12

bookshelves: 2011, young-adult, historical-fiction
Recommended for: Teachers doing a unit on the Civil Rights Movement
Read in February, 2011, read count: 2

The Watsons Go to Birmingham is historical fiction about the church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama 1963. Byron is a fun character because he does things that I would never do. This boy oozes confidence. He is so in love with himself he freezes his lips to the side mirror of the car. He sets things on fire, bleaches his hair, steals, sluffs school and picks on his little brother. Even though he is the "bad" kid, he has a heart of gold. He saves his brother, cries over a dead bird, and beats up anyone who dares to pick on his younger brother, Kenny.
Byron's bad behavior causes momma and dad to ship him off to grandma's house in Alabama. Alabama is very different from Michigan. The Watsons find a very segregated city in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement. The church in Birmingham is bombed, killing four little girls. Kenny is forced to grow up quickly and brutally at the church.
The only thing I did not like about the book is the limited time we look at the Civil Rights issue in Alabama. The story builds up to it throughout the book, but it seemed anticlimactic once we got there.
It is a Newberry Award finalist and a great book set in the Civil Rights Movement. My students and I loved the humor and the information we learned about Birmingham "Bombingham" in 1963.
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