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Book Review

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. Cal…

Bud, Not Buddy

by Christopher Paul Curtis

Overall Book 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.

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

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.

Alcohol / Drug Use:


Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

An accountant and CPA by profession, I found myself a book reviewer for Squeaky Clean Reads by happenstance. When the opportunity came to transform that website into Compass Book Ratings, I was excited to seize it and meld my business background with my love of books. As the mother of three teenage sons, I have read a large number of children and young adult books and I believe that there is great value in a content review service. As much as we would love to read everything our children read, there just isn’t enough time. I also appreciate being able to select books for myself that are really worth my precious and limited reading time. I believe there is a book out there for everyone–they just have to find it!