Bud, Not Buddy (Curtis)

Author Bio
Birth—May 10, 1953
Where—Flint, Michigan, USA
Education—B.A., University of Michigan-Flint
Awards—Newbery Medal (2); Coretta Scott King Award

Christopher Paul Curtis is an American children's author and a Newbery Medal winner who wrote The Watsons Go to Birmingham: 1963 and the critically acclaimed Bud, Not Buddy. Bud, Not Buddy is the first novel to receive both the Coretta Scott King Award and the Newbery Medal. His book Elijah of Buxton (winner of the Scott O'Dell Historical Fiction Award, the Coretta Scott King Award, and a Newbery Honor) is set in a free Black community in Ontario that was founded in 1849 by runaway slaves. His latest book, The Mighty Miss Malone, was released in January of 2012.

Christopher Paul Curtis was born in Flint, Michigan, on May 10, 1953 to Dr. Herman Elmer Curtis, a chiropodist and factory worker/supervisor, and Leslie Jane Curtis, an educator. Curtis is an alumnus of the University of Michigan-Flint (UM-Flint). Curtis is the father of two daughters, Ayaan Leslie, born in 2010, and Ebyaan Hothan, born in 2012 to Curtis and his wife, Habon Aden Curtis. Christopher modeled characters in Bud, Not Buddy after his two grandfathers—Earl “Lefty” Lewis, a Negro league baseball pitcher, and 1930s bandleader Herman E. Curtis, Sr., of Herman Curtis and the Dusky Devastators of the Depression. The city of Flint plays an important role in many of Curtis's books.

Education and Work
Curtis is a product of the Flint Public Schools system. He attended Dewey Elementary, Clark Elementary, Pierce Elementary (in the Academically Gifted Program), Whittier Junior High School, McKinley Junior High School (where, in 1967, he became the first African-American student to be elected to student council in the school's 32-year history), and Flint Southwestern High School. Graduating from the University of Michigan-Flint in 1999, he received his bachelor's degree at the same ceremony where he was the commencement speaker.

Every year since 2008 Curtis has returned to the University of Michigan-Flint to host the Christopher Paul Curtis Writing Challenge, a program instituted by Dr. Rose Casement and Dr. Fred Svoboda. During the program every fourth-grade student in Flint comes to UM-Flint's auditorium to hear a presentation by Curtis. Afterwards they are provided with a story starter that Curtis has written and given the challenge of finishing the story. A winner from each of Flint's elementary schools is chosen by the teachers to return to UM-Flint with their families for an award ceremony where Curtis and Dr. Casement announce an overall winner. The stated goal of the challenge is to expose Flint's youth to the university environment and to encourage writing as a means of expression.

The summer after graduating from high school Curtis became a member of a Lansing, Michigan based theatrical/musical group called Suitcase Theatre. The group was directed by Powell Lindsay and performed musical numbers and the works of Langston Hughes. The group toured and performed in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, France, England, Canada, and the United States.

Curtis spent the first 13 years after high school on the assembly line of Flint’s historic Fisher Body Plant #1. His job entailed hanging car doors on Electra 225s and LeSabres, which, he later claimed, left him with an aversion to getting into large cars, particularly Buicks. After quitting Fisher Body he took a series of low-paying jobs. He worked as a groundskeeper at Stonegate Manor housing cooperative in Flint, Flint campaign co-manager for United States senator Donald Riegle, customer service representative for Mich Con in Detroit, temporary worker for Manpower in Detroit, and warehouse clerk for Automated Data Processing in Allen Park, Michigan. Curtis took a year off of work to write his first novel, The Watsons Go To Birmingham: 1963. He wrote the novel in longhand in the Windsor Public Library.

Curtis has been a full-time author and lecturer/speaker since 1998.

In 2009 he received a Doctor of Laws Honoris Causa from the University of Windsor in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

Published Works
The Watsons Go to Birmingham: 1963—When Kenny's 13-year-old brother, Byron, gets to be too much trouble, the Watsons head from Flint, Michigan, to Birmingham, Alabama, to visit Grandma Sands, the one person who can shape Byron up. But the events that shake Birmingham in the summer of 1963 will change Kenny's life for ever.

Bud, Not Buddy—It is 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. The book was released in September of 1999.

Bucking the Sarge—Luther T. Farrell has got to get out of Flint, Michigan. He just needs to escape the evil empire of the local slumlord, his mother.

Mr. Chickee's Messy Mission—When Russell's dog, Rodney Rodent, jumps into a mural to chase a demonic-looking gnome and disappears, the Flint Future Detectives are on the case.

Mr. Chickee's Funny Money—Mr. Chickee, the genial blind man in the neighborhood, gives 9-year-old Steven a mysterious bill with 15 zeros on it and the image of a familiar but startling face.

Elijah of Buxton (2007) A story based on the real settlement of former slaves who escaped to Canada on the Underground Railroad.

The Mighty Miss Malone—This book is set in depression-era Gary, Indiana, and Flint, Michigan. The work is a spin-off from Bud, Not Buddy and is narrated by 12-year-old Deza Malone.

Curtis's next book, Benji & Red, (Formerly titled The Madman of Piney Woods) returns readers to Buxton, Ontario, this time in the year 1901. It is a story told in alternating chapters by two twelve year old boys. One, Alvin "Red" Stockard is an Irish boy living in Chatham, Ontario, and the other, Benjamin "Benji" Alston is an African-Canadian boy living in the settlement of Buxton. Several characters from Elijah of Buxton make brief reappearances. (Adapted from Wikipedia.)

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