The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963 Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2017-10-17 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 1 user ratings

" This was an interesting story about the Watson family. It's filled with realistic anecdotes of an African-American family living in Flint, Michigan. The focus of the story is between 2 brothers and their arduous relationship. All this takes place in 1963 with the back drop of the civil Rights movement. It's a wonderful story to get kids to talk about family life, siblings, and of course to talk about racism and the Civil rights Movement. " said.

" This book is a historical fiction novel called The Watsons go to Birmingham-1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis. This story takes place throughout the Wastons journey from Flint, Michigan, to Birmingham, Alabama. The main characters are the brothers, Kenny and Byron. The story is about how Byron keeps getting into trouble in Flint so Momma and Dad decide to have a road trip down to Birmingham, Alabama, the most segregated city in the country. This is an amazing book! My favorite part was when the church blew up. I could just imagine the horror on everyone's faces. I would definitely recommend this book to a friend." said.

"The Watsons are a loving, funny family who live in Flint, Michigan in the early 1960's. When the oldest brother, Byron, continues down the path to trouble, his parents decide to take him to stay with his strict grandmother in Birmingham, Alabama. The entire family goes on the long trip, and while they are in Birmingham, a church is bombed, killing several children. Kenny, the middle child, is traumatized by what he sees, and takes a while to recover, with the help of his big brother, Byron.
Kenny and his family live in Flint, Michigan in the 1960's. They are a close-knit family with plenty of humor and plenty of firm parenting. Kenny's big brother, Byron, hangs out with all the thugs and bullies, but he has a good heart and looks out for his younger brother and sister.
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"We read this book in our eighth grade ELA class with Mrs. Castillo. At first I was kind of 'eh' about the book but as we read it, I found that I was wrong and that the book was really good! The way the humor ties into the book is so real as well as the racism and struggles of an African American family. This book is really great and I recommend it to everyone who likes to know a bit about history with a touch of fiction tied into it. I really like the book and it's just a really great read and I really enjoyed it.

I'm pretty sure that the beginning begins with a dare that Byron makes to his gullible of a brother. Something like that. And as the story progesses, the Watsons find themselves going to Birmingham to leave Byron there with his grandma. While in Birmingham, a bomb explodes in a church and the readers is left to believe that the youngest of the Watsons died in the bombing that was evidently planned by the KKK. It is a heart-filling book that really touches your heart. It was awesome.
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"The Watsons Go to Birmingham- 1963 is a historical fiction by Christopher Paul Curtis. Kenneth Watson is a 10-year-old boy in Flint, Michigan. The Watsons Go to Birmingham tells the story of Kenny and his family (Momma, Dad, Joetta, and Byron). Byron is officially a juvenile delinquent but Momma and Dad want to change that. They decide that they're going to Birmingham, Alabama for a week to visit Momma's mom, Grandma Sands. But when they leave Birmingham,they're going to leave Byron there for the entire summer, and maybe even the whole school year depending on his behavior in the summer. I enjoyed this book! Christopher Paul Curtis did an excellent job explaining the characters by using the events in the story. One of my favorite things about the book was how fiction and non-fiction were intertwined. I also liked how the story was told from the perspective of a 10-year-old boy, not a narrator. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a fabulous quick-read. " said.

"I have been wanting to read this for a while since my library has promoted it during literacy "big reads," so I got a copy of the audio and my 12-year-old son and I listened to it on our commute. Since the title is The Watsons Go to Birmingham, I expected them to GO TO BIRMINGHAM for most of the book and absorb the culture and compare/contrast the southern way of life with their northern way of life, at the same time weaving the civil rights movement and the church bombing into the story. Nope. When the story is almost finished, they spend about two days in Birmingham. Even my son, who seemed to enjoy it and chuckled a few times, asked, "When are they going to Birmingham already?!"

I found this story to be hurried and chopped into pat sections that seemed disjointed (several chapters are devoted to two hick-like schoolmates and I'm not sure what their purpose really serves to the story). And the characters are cardboard and change in personality from one extreme to the next (Byron is a JD and skips school and fights with his parents and and is not very nice to his young siblings, yet his personality does a 180 after two days in Birmingham). There is even a very muddled section right after the church bombing about the youngest brother taking his sister back home. Maybe I checked out from the story at this point, but I had no idea what was going on.
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"Kenny Watson lives with his family in Flint Michigan. His older brother, Byron, has been getting into trouble and running with the wrong crowd. Meanwhile, Kenny is constantly being bullied at school, in his neighborhood and most times at the hand of Byron. Byron’s misbehavior has become too much for the family to bear, so they head down south with the intentions of leaving Byron behind to be taken care of by his grandmother, but the south has its own troubles. It is a trip that will change the Watsons lives.

This is my first time reading this novel and I can see why it is popular with most teachers, especially when teaching about racial events from the past. I could relate to Kenny, for I too was teased in school for being a “nerd”. It is really sad that even today, being a clown is praised and striving to achieve is frowned upon my many youth. I thought it was interesting that the parents did not explain the concept of credit to the kids when requesting that they go to the store to purchase some things and sign for it. My sisters and brothers and I use to do just that, but our parents did not explain to concept of credit to us either. We were in trouble a lot for placing items on credit. I could really feel the panic and fear that was felt when the family thought that Joetta, Joey, had died in the blast. It is such a terrible feeling to lose a person that you love.

The author does an excellent job of showing the fear and horror that was felt when churches in the south were being bombed, especially the day that the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church blew up in Birmingham Alabama, killing four innocent little girls. A picture was painted with the emotions of the people but also, the sounds, or lack of sounds. Kenny states that his ears stop working, but he can still see people’s mouths moving and imagine his mother screaming “Why?” and his father calling “Joetta!”. Byron is a typical character for the time period. The mother counts off a list of troubles that Byron has gotten into for the past year, one being joining a gang. There are accounts of many youth that rebelled and caused “trouble”. Most youth joined groups such as the Revolutionary Party, the Black Panthers, the Nation of Islam or street gangs.
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"This was a well written story, one that was mostly filled with anecdotes about the life of an African American family during the 1960s. The anecdotes worked well to weave a cohesive story, one that touches on the struggles in the Civil Rights Movement, especially in the South.
I enjoyed the narrative written from the perspective of a fourth grade student, Kenny. His interaction with friends and family set the stage for the cultural diversity and challenges faced by African Americans. Kenny's family life also showed a different family dynamic, one of the past, where child rearing was notably different from today's parenting. Overall, a good story and it is a book that I would recommend to children (and adults).
" said.

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