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Home | LS5603 Children's and YA Literature | LS6643 Nonfiction for Children and YA
Bud, not Buddy

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Bud, not Buddy Curtis, Christopher Paul.  1999.  Bud, not Buddy.  New York:  Delacorte Press.  ISBN:  0385323069.

Using the dark background of the Great Depression as his setting, Curtis weaves the tale of an optimistic orphan in search of his family.  After the death of his mother and living in an orphanage for several years, Bud decides to strike out on his own to find his father.  Although he has many misadventures and mishaps along the journey, he is ultimately able to find the place where he is able to feel at home again.

As early as page two, the author lets the reader know the setting of the story as a foster care caseworker explains to Bud, "There's a depression going on all over this country.  People can't find jobs and these are difficult times for everybody."  Young readers further understand the ramifications of the country's state-of-affairs as Bud makes his journey to find his family.  He stands in line for meals with others who are hungry, sees signs stating there is no work available, and tries to hitch an illegal ride on a train with many others who are hoping there is work out West.

Curtis is able to give the reader a sense of the urgency and desperation that hung over the country during this period of history while at the same time creating rich characters who seem to rise above their situation through love and humor.  Even though Bud's situation at times seems dire, his optimism rarely wanes.  Typical ten-year-old thought patterns make Bud realistic, such as trying to learn the ways of the world ("If you got to tell a lie, make sure it's simple and easy to remember." p.11) and figuring out the motives of adults ("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." p.56)  Authentic dialect heard in conversation also enriches the depth of Curtis's characters, such as Herman E. Calloway's storytelling, "And to make a long story longer I go out an flick this halfway stiff right jab clean at Pops's head and..." (p.145)

The longing for a home where you feel like you belong is a timeless theme that resonates throughout this book.  As he struggles to take care of his basic needs such as food and shelter, it is Bud's yearning for a real home and real family that allows readers to connect with him on a very basic level.

http://www.plainfield.k12.in.us/hschool/webq/webq106/
A webquest that guides students through the creation of a newspaper about the Great Depression.
 
Web based, thematic unit

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Holly S.
Graduate Student at Texas Woman's University