The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963

The debut novel by Christopher Paul Curtis, and the second piece of fiction he wrote.  (The first was a short story written for the Metro Times of Detroit Short Story Contest, titled “Gideon P. Bentley’s Left Cross.”)

TWGTB is set in Flint, Michigan in the winter of 1962 and the fall of 1963.

It follows the Watson family from Flint to Birmingham on a journey that brushes against the bombing of a church much like that of the tragic attack on Birmingham, Alabama’s 16th Street Baptist Church.  Although the Civil Rights Movement plays an important role in the novel, the story is essentially about the life and day-to-day interactions of one working-class family from Flint, Michigan and the struggles of 10 year old Kenny Watson to understand where he belongs.

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The Watsons Go To Birmingham - 1963

Awards for The Watsons Go To Birmingham - 1963 

A Newbery Medal Nominee

A Coretta Scott King Award Nominee

An ALA Top Ten Best Book

AN ALA Notable Childrens Book

An IRA Young Adults Choice

New York Times Book Review Best Book

Praise for The Watsons Go To Birmingham - 1963 

"An exceptional first novel."—Publishers Weekly, Starred, Boxed Review

"Superb . . . a warmly memorable evocation of an African American family."—The Horn Book Magazine, Starred

"Marvelous . . . both comic and deeply moving."—The New York Times Book Review

"Ribald humor . . . and a totally believable child's view of the world will make this book an instant hit."—School Library Journal, Starred

"Every so often a book becomes a modern classic almost as soon as it arrives on bookshelves. That happened in the mid-'90s when Christopher Paul Curtis released his first book, The Watsons Go to Birmingham — 1963." —NPR

2023 © Christopher Paul Curtis