Bud, Not Buddy – Foster Care and Adoption Book Review

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From the Cover of Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis:

“It’s 1936, in Flint, Michigan. Times may be hard, and ten-year-old Bud may be a motherless boy on the run, but Bud’s got a few things going for him:

  1. He has his own suitcase filled with his own important, secret things.
  2. He’s the author of Bud Caldwell’s Rules and Things for Having a Funner Life and Making a Better Liar Out of Yourself.
  3. His momma never told him who his father was, but she left a clue: flyers of Herman E. Calloway and his famous band, the Dusky Devastators of the Depression!!!!!!

Bud’s got an idea that those flyers will lead him to his father. Once he decides to hit the road and find this mystery man, nothing can stop him—not hunger, not fear, not vampires, not even Herman E. Calloway himself.

Bud, Not Buddy is full of laugh-out-loud humor and wonderful characters, hitting the high notes of jazz and sounding the deeper tones of the Great Depression. Once again Christopher Paul Curtis, author of award-winning novel The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963, takes readers on a heartwarming and unforgettable journey.”

Grade:

5 hoots out of 5

Transfiguring Adoption awarded this book 5 Hoots out of 5 based on how useful it will be for a foster/adoptive family. [Learn more about our Hoot grading system here]

What Our Family Thought:

I (Margie) had previously seen this book when making our book lists and thought it looked like an interesting book to read with Jasmine, then lo and behold, it was a reading requirement of her 6th grade language arts class! I checked it out so I could read it myself, and we could talk about it. We thought the target audience to be middle schoolers. While it is a fictional story, it is set during the Great Depression, and readers can glean bits of history from the book, including issues of race relations, economic conditions, and life in children’s homes and foster care.

Here is what Jasmine, age 12, had to say about Bud, Not Buddy:

“I thought it was a really good book and I could really relate to it. I’ve been in bad foster homes like he was, but I never ran away. Some of Bud’s phrases were kind of funny, like ‘Woop Zoop Sloop.’ Little kids might get a little bit scared when he’s in the shed, and everything is happening. It’s a little bit scary when you try to picture it. Don’t follow all his rules because some of them are about lying. Some of the rules are not bad, but it depends on the situation.”

This award-winning book will make you laugh out loud as well as have you thinking about important issues. Children who have been in foster care or a children’s home may find some of Bud’s experiences triggering their own trauma. Jasmine did not seem to have any issues with trauma triggers from the book, but like I say with any media, it may not be a bad idea to skim the book yourself to be sure you feel your child can handle it. This is especially true with this book if you feel your child is at risk for running away and cannot sort out the reality that this book is fictional, and a runaway in the present day would be at serious risk of harm.

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Now It’s Your Turn:

  1. How would you feel if you were in Bud’s place?
  2. Do you have any belongings that are as special to you as those in Bud’s suitcase were to him? What makes these items special? How do you protect them and care for them?
  3. What would you do if you were in Bud’s situation?
  4. Do you think a runaway in our days would have the same types of experiences that Bud did? Why or why not?
  5. What do you think of Bud’s rules? Which ones do you think are true?
  6. Which of Bud’s rules should you maybe not follow? Why?
  7. If you were Bud, would you try to find your father? Why or why not?

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