Publisher's Note:  

It's 1936 Flint, Michigan. Times may be hard, and 10-year-old Bud may be a motherless boy, but Bud's got a few things going for him: 1. He has his own suitcase full of special things; 2. He's the author of "Bud Caldwell's Rules and Things for Having a Funner Life and Making a Better Liar Out of Yourself"; 3. His momma never told him who his father was, but she left a clue: posters of Herman E. Calloway and his band of renown, the Dusky Devastators of the Depression. Bud is sure those posters will lead him to his father. Once he decides to hit the road, nothing can stop him, not hunger, not fear, not would-be vampires, not even Herman E. Calloway himself.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Laurel Leaf

Bud, Not Buddy

by Christopher Paul Curtis

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Overall Review:  

A writer who can turn a nice phrase is a craftsman, but an author who slips you inside a character’s skin without you noticing is an artist.  Christopher Paul Curtis is a master artist in the Newbery-awarded Bud, Not Buddy.  Bud, a ten-year old orphan, is perfectly voiced and I liked the kid before I had even finished the second page.  Set in the Great Depression, this book is fabulous historical fiction that manages to escape the traditional darkness portrayed with that era.  This is mainly through the resilience of Bud.  An optimist at heart, Bud has developed an entire set of rules to help him navigate life.  For instance,

Rules and Things Number 16:
If a Grown-up Ever Starts a Sentence by Saying
“Haven’t You Heard,”  Get Ready, ‘Cause
What’s About to Come Out of Their Mouth Is Gonna
Drop You Headfirst into a Boiling Tragedy.

The first-class characterization of the supporting characters contributes further to complete immersion in the story.  Perfectly paced, Bud, Not Buddy nails the ending and suddenly you remember that you have been reading about Bud—not living with him for the past few hours.  Quality fiction that should be used as a touchstone for excellence in children’s literature, Bud, Not Buddy is highly recommended.

Content Analysis:  

Violence consists of a scene where two boys are fighting each other with punches and kicking.  In another scene, some adults cuff a boy several times to give the appearance that the boy is part of their family.

Profanity consists of one mild use of the Lord’s name in vain.

Sexual content consists of a girl kissing a boy.   (He didn’t mind too much because she had dimples.)  In a conversation, a character theorizes in a mild and understated way that a girl may have run “off with the drummer.”  

Mature Subject Matter:  

Mature themes would include the difficulties of the Great Depression and racial discrimination.  However, the heaviness of these themes is mitigated by the good, kind, and helpful people the main character encounters and by the main character’s positive attitude.

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Reviewed By Cindy
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