The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963 *****
by Christopher Paul Curtis
Overview: The Watson family has a terrible juvenile delinquent on their hands...their eldest son. The plan is to drive to Birmingham and leave him with his no-nonsense grandma for the summer to straighten him up. While in Birmingham, they witness an African-American church being bombed. What effect will this violent act of racism have upon the family?
Positive elements: The story is very well-written and creative.The author has a very unique voice. He does an excellent job of portraying how the middle son walks through grief and deals with different emotions.
Negative elements: Mature themes including murder, racism, bullying, lying, a scary almost drowning, disrespectful behavior
Conclusion: I could hardly stand how awful the older brother treated his younger brother. The story plodded from one awful event to the next. (Honestly, it kind of ruined the book for me.) Once the family began their car trip to Birmingham, the story picked up pace and was enjoyable. Parts of the end of the story I loved. But in other parts, the older brother has such a quick change of heart that I couldn't believe it.
I know this story has won awards and is well-liked by many. Unfortunately, I can't say it is one of my favorites. Maybe fifth grade and above boys would enjoy it?