Maggie Kay Hall-Librarian, Mother, Life-Long-Learner and Literacy Advocate
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Selection: Bud, Not Buddy
For this week’s assignment, I chose to focus on an example of historical fiction (young adult) out of the three genre options. I have always been drawn to historical fiction when considering realism specifically. I really like the way things seemed so real and cultured at a time before Internet, Google, social media, and all other things technology driven. At the same time, if it was not for distance education online, I would not be an educator today.
The example I chose is Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis. I was also surprised that I was not able to find this title or author mentioned in Chapter 5, since this was also an awarded the John Newbery Medal and has written many other historical fiction texts.
This historical fiction story takes place in Michigan during the 1930s during the Great Depression, which is a very important part of American history. A book study using Bud, Not Buddy could be used with other departments for a cross-curricular study as well if they were learning about the Great Depression or US History in general. Bud’s character is quite dynamic as an African-American orphan and is tired of bouncing from one home to the next. Many students can either relate or appreciate the type of problems/conflicts he faces since many come from broken homes or have lost a parent. Bud decides to run away on a quest to find his real father. Since his mother had passed four years prior, Bud has no other family members left in Michigan and no other reason to stay. Middle-schoolers can relate to the main character, Bud since he is ten years old and the plot development throughout the story on focuses on a few weeks of Bud’s life, and not a life-span. In addition, the language is not too complex so that a younger reader can clearly understand everything stated. The language and dialogue the author uses for Bud is far from grammatically correct or formal, but it is authentic to the time period, making his character that much more believable. One of Bud’s favorite things to say is “shucks”. Adolescents can easily understand the way Bud thinks, talks, interacts with others, and the world around him.
The setting in this book is described in rich accurate detail which helps to bring the past back to life, and the writer uses enough figurative language to keep the story interesting. Sometimes Bud must walk miles and miles, sleep under a tree, feels lonely, or like he cannot trust anyone. In the year 1936, traveling along through cold and rainy in Flint, Michigan is tough for a kid, but especially living during such a racial and controversial time. Real individuals throughout history are referenced in this book, such as J. Edgar Hoover, Herbert Hoover, and Satchel Paige. While the circumstances of the times are depicted in an authentic way, the author provides the reader with much optimism and hope as Bud eventually finds a new family and home with the Jazz band members that his grandfather plays with. The universal themes in this book emphasizes the importance of survival, fate, family, love, hope and relationships. Bud is a very bright (and brave) kid and keeps track of every life lesson he learns along his journey.
This book is great for a wide range of ages, but I think it is target towards the middle school levels more than anything. It is also a great read for anyone who enjoys reading about historical situations like I do. All the events taking place in Bud, Not Buddy could have actually happened, and after reading you might wonder if they really did. It is based upon real life hardships, such as the Depression, and what it might be like to go through life as a young boy during this time-period.
Short, K, Tomlinson C, & Lynch-Brown, C. (2015). Essentials of Young Adult Literature, 3rd Edition. Pearson. pp 84-90.
Short, K, Tomlinson C, & Lynch-Brown, C. (2015). Essentials of Children’s Literature, 9th Edition. Pearson. pp 123-128.