Friday, December 31, 1999

Bud, Not Buddy: Wanna Win a Newbery? Write about an Orphan

Bud, Not Buddy (1999) by Christopher Paul Curtis is my latest read in my endeavor to plow through the winners of the Newbery Medal for excellence in children's literature.

I've ranted on this before, but it bears repeating - if only because Newbery winners can't stop repeating the pattern. What's with book after book being about orphans? Apparently the committee which decides Newbery winners loves stories about orphans.

In this case, you can't get past the first paragraph of the book flap before you know this is a story of a ten-year-old motherless boy in depression-era Flint, Michigan. Bud (not Buddy) is determined to find his father, who he believes is jazz musician Herman E. Calloway.

Newbery committee biases aside, one can't blame the author for focusing his story on an orphan. He tells a strong story where the main character is a determined boy who doesn't let the hard knocks of his life get him down. When Bud finds the man he thinks is his father, he is immediately embraced by the jazz musicians who have formed their own sort of family.

I didn't get a chance to see it, but found out this had been turned into a children's play and was done at The Coterie, a children's theater a mere 15 minutes away from me! It is interesting in that my post about the Newbery-winning Holes by Louis Sacher, focused on how that book was turned into a movie. I would have liked to seen how Bud, Not Buddy fared as a play - and the Coterie has a reputation as one of the five best children's theaters in the country. In any event, here's there blurb about the play: