Jennifer Moss's Reviews > The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963

The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
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's review
Aug 16, 2012

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Read from August 10 to 15, 2012

I had figured that I would use this book in my LA book club unit on the Civil Rights even before I read it. Unfortunately it wasn't what I thought it would be. The story is a much better book for character development than it is for historical fiction. The protagonist is well written and very believable. Students will relate to the antics of the family and neighborhood kids described by Curtis. They will also connect to the bullying issues. I was disappointed though in how long the reader has to wait to get to the reality of the time period. The story provides a very faint background to the period, little comments here and there that most students won't pick up on. I fear that students won't be able to create thought provoking civil rights themed questions or have meaningful discussions until the end. At the end, the book presents the tragic events and aftermath in a sort of dream state, which may be confusing for young readers. The mood of most of this book does not match the mood of the end and there is no transition to help the reader make sense of what happened (probably the way Curtis wanted it.)
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