Module 5: Bud, Not Buddy

Module 5: Bud, Not Buddy

Curtis, C. (1999). Bud, not Buddy. New York: Delacorte Books for Young Readers.


This book tells the heartwarming story of a boy named Bud (not Buddy) and his journey to locate the man he believes is his father. Set during the Great Depression, Bud is an orphan on the run from his latest foster home where he was wrongly accused of beating up a boy. He decides to find his father and must make his way alone across the state.

What Did I Think?

This book starts right off with drawing the reader into the story. Bud is a character liked immediately and he becomes someone to root for as he tries to find his own way to his father. He is smart and kind but has developed his own rules for how to survive. These rules might not always be the best advice, but coming from an orphan it is easy to see why he developed them. The book deals with topics of abandonment, the depression, and segregation in a way that is realistic and appropriate. The book was entertaining and funny.


From Publishers Weekly

As in his Newbery Honor-winning debut, The Watsons Go to BirminghamA1963, Curtis draws on a remarkable and disarming mix of comedy and pathos, this time to describe the travails and adventures of a 10-year-old African-American orphan in Depression-era Michigan. Bud is fed up with the cruel treatment he has received at various foster homes, and after being locked up for the night in a shed with a swarm of angry hornets, he decides to run away. His goal: to reach the man heAon the flimsiest of evidenceAbelieves to be his father, jazz musician Herman E. Calloway. Relying on his own ingenuity and good luck, Bud makes it to Grand Rapids, where his “father” owns a club. Calloway, who is much older and grouchier than Bud imagined, is none too thrilled to meet a boy claiming to be his long-lost son. It is the other members of his bandASteady Eddie, Mr. Jimmy, Doug the Thug, Doo-Doo Bug Cross, Dirty Deed Breed and motherly Miss ThomasAwho make Bud feel like he has finally arrived home. While the grim conditions of the times and the harshness of Bud’s circumstances are authentically depicted, Curtis shines on them an aura of hope and optimism. And even when he sets up a daunting scenario, he makes readers laughAfor example, mopping floors for the rejecting Calloway, Bud pretends the mop is “that underwater boat in the book Momma read to me, Twenty Thousand Leaks Under the Sea.” Bud’s journey, punctuated by Dickensian twists in plot and enlivened by a host of memorable personalities, will keep readers engrossed from first page to last. Ages 9-12. (Sept.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Booklist (Vol. 96, No. 1 (September 1, 1999))

Gr. 4-6. Bud, 10, is on the run from the orphanage and from yet another mean foster family. His mother died when he was 6, and he wants to find his father. Set in Michigan during the Great Depression, this is an Oliver Twist kind of foundling story, but it’s told with affectionate comedy, like the first part of Curtis’ The Watsons Go to Birmingham (1995). On his journey, Bud finds danger and violence (most of it treated as farce), but more often, he finds kindness–in the food line, in the library, in the Hooverville squatter camp, on the road–until he discovers who he is and where he belongs. Told in the boy’s naive, desperate voice, with lots of examples of his survival tactics (“Rules and Things for Having a Funner Life and Making a Better Liar out of Yourself”), this will make a great read-aloud. Curtis says in an afterword that some of the characters are based on real people, including his own grandfathers, so it’s not surprising that the rich blend of tall tale, slapstick, sorrow, and sweetness has the wry, teasing warmth of family folklore.

Library Lesson

Adding an introduction to jazz music would be a great addition to reading this book. Students could hear jazz and be taken back in time to the days of the Great Depression and Bud’s journey to find his father. Another idea would be to have students create their own list of rules to help in life.


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