Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963

Christopher Paul Curtis
Rating: PG
10-year old Kenny Watson's family lives in freezing Flint Michigan in the 1960s. Increasingly concerned about the poor choices and bad friends of his older brother, Byron, Kenny's parents decide to take drastic steps to get Byron on the right track. To that end, the Watson's tune up their junker and drive down to Birmingham, Alabama to leave Byron with his maternal grandmother for the summer. The year is 1963 and Birmingham is in civil rights upheaval. The events Kenny experiences will change his understanding of the world forever.
This is a good book to start your child on the road to learning about discrimination and the civil rights movement. Most of the book takes place in Michigan and is a long lead-in to the events in Alabama. The real power of the book, though, comes in the last few chapters while visiting Alabama and back in Michigan as Kenny struggles to understand what he witnessed.
There is one sentence in which Byron curses about halfway through the book. Other than that, the book describes scenes of bullying and, while in Alabama, the aftermath of a bomb that was placed in a church. The latter is not described in a gory way but evokes powerful emotion.

clean books, books that are clean, clean books for tweens