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This is a hilarious, touching, and tragic novel about civil rights and the impact of violence on one African American family. Narrated by Kenny, 9, the story tells about his middle-class black family, the Watsons of Flint, Michigan, and their trip to Birmingham, Alabama, to visit Grandma. They happen to be in Birmingham when Grandma’s church is bombed.
http://www.randomhouse.com/features/christopherpaulcurtis/index.htmhttp://www.randomhouse.com/features/christopherpaulcurtis/index.htm Award Winning Author…….. On the left, Chris age 18 with his cousin. Christopher Paul Curtis at age three getting a haircut.
The Newbery Medal • This novel won the Newbery Medal • A prestigious award for children’s literature. • This means that this book is a significant contribution to literature. • Decided by a committee who evaluates books based on the traits of writing. • Each year, the winners of the Newbery medal and honor books are announced by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC)
Author Bio….1953- • Christopher Paul Curtis was born and raised in Flint, Michigan. After completing high school, he spent the next thirteen years working at Flint's historic Fisher Body Plant on the assembly line. Curtis began keeping a journal while at work to record specific happenings during the day. While working, he began drafting The WatsonsGo to Birmingham--1963. A lot of the story parts and situations came from direct experience with his job.
Christopher Paul Curtis • The Watson’s Go to Birmingham--1963 was Curtis’ first novel for young readers. The book won both a Newbery Honor Award and a Coretta Scott King Honor Award. Also, Curtis’ debut novel has been awarded a myriad of other honors, including being named a Best Book of 1995 by such publications as The Horn Book, The Bulletin, The New York Times Book Review, and Publishers Weekly. His second book, Bud, Not Buddy, received the 2000 Newbery Medal. Both of these novels unite aspects of Curtis’ family heritage with pertinent and recent American history. This combination enables the author to craft stories that are entertaining and subtly humorous with characters that seem real and that you can relate to.
Christopher Paul Curtis • Curtis was able to horn in on his talents as a writer with much help from his family, especially his wife, Kaysandra. She supported his aspirations to be a writer and guided him away from the Fisher Body Plant and more toward his goals. Curtis’ ancestry also points down the road of entertainment and success. His grandfathers were Earl "Lefty" Lewis, a Negro Baseball League pitcher, and Herman E. Curtis, Sr., 1930s bandleader of "Herman Curtis and the Dusky Devastators of the Depression,"
Interesting Facts and His Own Words…… Previous Jobs Factory worker, campaign worker, maintenance man, customer service representative,warehouse clerk, purchasing clerk Favorite Hobbies Playing basketball, collecting old record albums, writing Favorite Foods Mexican, Indian, West Indian Favorite Books Anything by Toni Morrison, Kurt Vonnegut, and Zora Neale Hurston Inspiration For Writing (in CPC's own words) "I believe that young people are often blessed with the best ears for detecting what rings true or what feels right in a particular piece of writing. To me the highest accolade comes when a young reader tells me, 'I really liked your book.' The young seem to be able to say 'really' with a clarity, a faith, and an honesty that we adults have long forgotten. That is why I write."
AMERICAN CULTURAL HISTORY1960 - 1969 FACTS about this decade *Population 177,830,000 (309,975,000) *Unemployment 3,852,000 (12.3 million Oct./2012) *National Debt 286.3 Billion ($15,856,367,214,324 as of 6/30/2012) *Average Salary $4,743 (2011 - $42,979.61) *Teacher's Salary $5,174 (average in U.S. - $50,000) *Minimum Wage $1.00 ($7.25 in 2012) *Life Expectancy: Males 66.6 years, Females 73.1 years *Auto deaths 21.3 per 100,000
TELEVISION Television offered the second prime time cartoon show, the Flintstones , in 1960. (The first was Rocky and his Friends in 1959.) It appealed to both children and adults and set off a trend that included Alvin & the Chipmunks , the Jetsons , and Mr. Magoo. The Andy Griffith Show was the epitome of prime time family television, and ran for most of the decade. The Beverly Hillbillies heralded the rise of the sitcom. The supernatural and science fiction blended in many of the popular shows, including Bewitched, The Addams Family, My Favorite Martian , I Dream of Jeannie, Star Trek, the Outer Limits , and the Twilight Zone. In the late 60's, humor was revived in a show called Rowan and Martin's Laugh In, where many regular performers and guests became part of a show biz classic.
The Conk Hairdo The Conk originated in the 1920s and was stylized by entertainer Cab Calloway. The style was an attempt by black males to straighten their hair, and it was a painstaking process of “relaxing” the hair with a solution dominated by lye. In order to keep the humidity from causing the hair to return to its natural curly state, men would wear fabric on their heads called do-rags. By the mid -1960s, the conk died out, as most entertainers (and therefore the general public in kind) began to move towards a more natural look which emphasized pride in black heritage, a look that would eventually evolve into the Afro. conk Afro
The Life and Times of Buster Brown • 125 years ago in 1878, a young man named George Warren Brown believed St. Louis could become a manufacturing center for the shoe industry. He invested his life savings and founded his own little company to manufacture and sell shoes. • That little company is now a major corporation with annual sales of $2.3 billion. Brown Shoe today is the No. 1 retailer of value-priced, brand-name shoes for the American family. Plus, we still own and market such well known brands as Buster Brown shoes for kids, and Naturalizer, LifeStride and Connie shoes for women. • Many people mistakenly think Brown Shoe was named after the much-loved Buster Brown character. In fact, our Buster Brown shoe brand came 25 years later. • In 1904 at the "Meet Me In St. Louis" World's Fair, a young Brown Shoe executive met Buster Brown's creator, cartoonist Richard F. Outcault, and purchased the name from him. At the time, Buster Brown was a mischievous cartoon character, who, together with his dog Tige and sister Mary Jane, delighted children of all ages. • Brown Shoe made marketing history when it sent on the road a series of midgets, each dressed as Buster and accompanied by a dog (Tige). They toured the entire country selling Buster Brown shoes as they performed in theaters, department stores and shoe stores. In those days, such a touring show generally brought out the whole town.
Civil Rights Movement in the United States: Political, legal, and social struggle to gain full citizenship rights for black Americans and to achieve racial equality.The civil rights movement was first and foremost a challenge to segregation, the system of laws and customs separating blacks and whites that whites used to control blacks after slavery was abolished in the 1860s. During the civil rights movement, individuals and civil rights organizations challenged segregation and discrimination with a variety of activities, including protest marches, boycotts and refusal to abide by segregation laws. Many believe that the movement began with the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955 and ended with the Voting Rights Act of 1965, though there is debate about when it began and whether it has ended yet. The Little Rock Nine
The Little Rock Nine • The Little Rock Nine, as they later came to be called, were the first black teenagers to attend all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957. These remarkable young African-American students challenged segregation in the deep South and won. • Although Brown v. Board of Education outlawed segregation in schools, many racist school systems defied the law by intimidating and threatening black students—Central High School was a notorious example. But the Little Rock Nine were determined to attend the school and receive the same education offered to white students, no matter what. Things grew ugly and frightening right away. On the first day of school, the governor of Arkansas ordered the state's National Guard to block the black students from entering the school. Imagine what it must have been like to be a student confronted by armed soldiers! President Eisenhower had to send in federal troops to protect the students. • But that was only the beginning of their ordeal. Every morning on their way to school angry crowds of whites taunted and insulted the Little Rock Nine—they even received death threats. One of the students, fifteen-year-old Elizabeth Eckford, said "I tried to see a friendly face somewhere in the mob. . . . I looked into the face of an old woman, and it seemed a kind face, but when I looked at her again, she spat at me." As scared as they were, the students wouldn't give up, and several went on to graduate from Central High. Nine black teenagers challenged a racist system and defeated it.
Martin Luther King, Jr.: "I Have a Dream" August 28, 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.
Civil Rights Timeline 1963 • Police arrest King and other ministers demonstrating in Birmingham, Ala., then turn fire hoses and police dogs on the marchers. • Medgar Evers, NAACP leader, is murdered June 12 as he enters his home in Jackson, Miss. About 1,300 people march from the Central Area to downtown Seattle, demanding greater job opportunities for blacks in department stores.The Bon Marche promises 30 new jobs for blacks. • About 400 people rally at Seattle City Hall to protest delays in passing an open-housing law. In response, the city forms a 12-member Human Rights Commission but only two blacks are included, prompting a sit-in at City Hall and Seattle's first civil-rights arrests. 250,000 people attend the March on Washington, D.C. urging support for pending civil-rights legislation. The event was highlighted by King's "I have a dream" speech. • The Seattle School District implements a voluntary racial transfer program, mainly aimed at busing black students to mostly white schools. • Four girls killed Sept. 15 in bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala.
KEY ELEMENTS…….Point of View • A story may be told from the first-person or the third-person point of view. • If the narrator takes part in the action of the story and refers to himself or herself as “I”, the story is told from the first-person point of view. • If the narrator is outside the story and does not refer to himself or herself at all, the story is told from the third-person point of view. • This story is told in the first-person point of view. • Themes: • Family life, civil rights and the power • of prejudice
Allusion • An allusion is a reference to someone or something from literature, history, religion, mythology, or another field that is familiar to many people. Allusions enrich the reading experience by providing, in just a few words, an additional layer of meaning and emotional content. • For example, when Byron’s lips are frozen to the car mirror, Joey alludes to “Nar-sissy”. She’s referring to Narcissus, a youth in Greek mythology who loves no one until he sees his own reflection in a pool. He remains there, pining after his own image until he dies. • Chapter 3: The World’s Greatest Dinosaur War Ever….The Americans vs the Nazis
The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963 is rich in allusion. Here are two more examples: • Chapter 7: “Yul Watson” the “long-lost son from Siam” alludes to actor Yul Brynner, who shaved his head for the role in the 1956 film The King and I. • Chapter 11: Thequestion et tu, Brute? Is a Shakespearean allusion. The title character in Julius Caesar asks it when his friend Brutus betrays him by joining his assassins.
Figure of Speech…HYPERBOLE • Hyperbole: a figure of speech in which exaggeration is used for emphasis or effect rather than deception. • I’d give my right arm for a piece of pizza. • This book weighs a ton. • Christopher Paul Curtis uses hyperbole, often as a way of adding humor to the story.
Literary Elements….MOOD/ATMOSPHERE • The mood or atmosphere is a feeling that a literary work conveys to readers. A mood is an emotion such as sadness,excitement, or anger. • The atmosphere in Chapters 1-11 is humorous and lighthearted. Soon after the family reaches Alabama, however, the atmosphere changes. • For example, in Chapter One: the mood is fun because of such details as exaggerated description of the cold and of other characters; Dad’s jokes; and Byron’s freezing his lips to the car mirror.
Prior Knowledge…… • Helen Keller: she was born a healthy infant, but was struck by an illness that left her blind and deaf before she learned how to speak. • Smokey the Bear: named after a real bear who survived a forest fire in the 1950s. This started a campaign to help prevent forest fires. His motto is : “Only you can prevent forest fires.” • Bozo the Clown: a clown from the 1960 show “Bozo’s Circus” AKA: The Miracle Worker Bozo