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The Watsons Go to Birmingham: 1963 | [Christopher Paul Curtis]

The Watsons Go to Birmingham: 1963

Enter the hilarious world of ten-year-old Kenny and his family, the Weird Watsons of Flint, Michigan. There's Momma, Dad, little sister Joetta, Kenny, and Byron, Kenny's older brother, who at thirteen is an "official juvenile delinquent." When Momma and Dad decide it's time for a visit to Grandma, Dad comes home with the amazing Ultra-Glide, and the Watsons set out on a trip like no other. Heading south, they're going to Birmingham, Alabama, and toward one of the darkest moments in America's history.
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Publisher's Summary

Enter the hilarious world of ten-year-old Kenny and his family, the Weird Watsons of Flint, Michigan. There's Momma, Dad, little sister Joetta, Kenny, and Byron, Kenny's older brother, who at thirteen is an "official juvenile delinquent."

When Momma and Dad decide it's time for a visit to Grandma, Dad comes home with the amazing Ultra-Glide, and the Watsons set out on a trip like no other. Heading south, they're going to Birmingham, Alabama, and toward one of the darkest moments in America's history.

By turns comic, tragic and touching, this remarkable Newbery Honor work, delightfully performed by LeVar Burton in this unabridged production, will delight listeners young and old as they meet Christopher Paul Curtis, a storyteller of bold ambition and a true and original voice, and his inimitable Watsons.

©1995 Christopher Paul Curtis; (P)1996 Random House, Inc., Listening Library, An Imprint of Random House Audio Publishing Group

What the Critics Say

"Marvelous...both comic and deeply moving." (The New York Times Book Review)
"An exceptional first novel." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (180 )
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  •  
    Jan Rochester, NY, United States 12-14-12
    Jan Rochester, NY, United States 12-14-12 Member Since 2011

    Eclectic, avid listener, favorite book is the one currently in ear.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    795
    ratings
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    406
    182
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    "An unexpected delight, almost a five... if"

    This Newberry Honor winning book is so close to a perfect home-run: the narration is spot on, the slow moving plot entertains all the way through with a gradual layering of character building that made me feel like part of Kenny's, 60's family in Flint, Michigan. I loved my visit to a home that might have eaten that embarrasing food stamp food a time or two, where kids were kids and worried about getting their face "Whirlpooled" and had parents who loved them dearly and made life fun. However, I am very sensitive to swearing and did notice the scattered curse words though the book, which wasn't enough to really bother me... until I stopped to think it was written for children. True young Kenny, the narrator, doesn't swear but older brother and parents are recorded though his eyes. The book also includes the bombing of a black church, where the much adored younger sister is attending Sunday school and the reader experiences the family's terror from outside the church. So I guess what I am saying is... even though the beginning is very light-hearted, warm and so very well written... it is more appropriate for older readers. I was also just a little dissapointed in what felt like a maniputlated ending. I was so sucked into the story, that at the end when I had to suspend my disbelief it was jarring.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anna 05-11-12
    Anna 05-11-12
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    5
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    "Not to be missed"

    This book richly deserves the Newbery honor it earned and the story and its characters will stay with one long after finishing. Accomplished actor and host of "Reading Rainbow" LeVar Burton brings the novel to warm and full life. All we could ask for is a sequel, and then another....

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Enid United States 05-07-12
    Enid United States 05-07-12 Listener Since 2006

    I have been an Audible listener since 2006. I love Audible... My question is, when will all books be published in Audio format?

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    10
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Sweet, Soulful and Fuunny"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Without a doubt!


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Watsons Go to Birmingham: 1963?

    The relationship between the older brother and his role in the family provides lot of laughs.


    What does LeVar Burton bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Excellent narration, the voice of an Actor who brings the story to life.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes


    Any additional comments?

    A great listening experience.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jasmin United States 11-29-11
    Jasmin United States 11-29-11
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    "One of the best books ever!"

    The Watsons go to Birmingham: 1963 has been one of my favorite books since I was in fourth grade, it's a funny and exciting book. LeVar Burton does a fantastic job of narrating he makes the story even more exciting than it is and the sound effects make the story sound even more interesting and gives you that nail bitting feeling of what is going to happen next. Whenever Alabama, ice box Michigan, or when someones in trouble I can sometimes listen him saying "Ready, aim, fire!", one of the catchiest lines that is said a lot throughout the book.Although I remember(in 4th grade) the ending of the story got a little scary, I remember it was interesting because the story's theme is about actual and relatively recent events that had happened here in our very own United States. It's a good book to read before a lesson about the African-American Civil Rights Movement to kids because the book doesn't talk about a lot of gory events that happened. It's a good opportunity to sit down with your kids and discuss about racism, human rights, etc. This book will always be in my top ten favorites list. If you liked this audiobook you should also listen to Bud, Not Buddy, another great story narrated by James Avery (also known as Phillip Banks from the Fresh Price of Bel Air)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Hilary Ely, NV, United States 11-23-11
    Hilary Ely, NV, United States 11-23-11 Member Since 2011
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    "witty, funny"

    I really enjoyed this book. It had a lot of wit. Heartwarming. It showed that all families are not perfect. I laughed out loud in several parts.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary Elgin, IL, USA 06-01-08
    Mary Elgin, IL, USA 06-01-08 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A story you'll want to share"

    1. Read and enjoy

    2. Give this book to:
    -smart or artistic kids who sometimes don't think they fit in; they will relate to the narrator.
    -kids who love being entertained by TV but not by books; they will look forward to each new chapter as if it were an episode of their favorite show.
    -children you wish knew a little more about America's recent history; they will learn a little about the Civil Rights Movement without feeling like they're being "taught."
    -children who are dealing with a recent trauma or death; this is full of humor and tragedy and offers advice about moving on.
    -adults who want something that's a pleasure to listen to, but will still get them thinking; this is precisely the book they're looking for.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roslyn New York, NY, USA 09-17-06
    Roslyn New York, NY, USA 09-17-06 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Funny!"

    Keeps you laughing!

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    famousdavis 12-30-06
    famousdavis 12-30-06 Member Since 2004
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    "Entertaining but I didn't like the coarse language"

    My 10-year-old son and I enjoyed -- for the most part -- listening to this story together after his younger siblings went to bed. We both enjoyed the comic telling of the story, and the narrator is absolutely first-rate. The character development comes alive, although I didn't see where the plot was going for quite a while into the story. What I didn't like is any references to the coarser language that I do not want my homeschooled kids exposed to -- one of the reasons I homeschool is to avoid early exposure to things like vulgarities and coarse language (it'll come, I know, I know). So, I didn't appreciate references to "giving him the dirty finger" and "he said the s-word" and "get the hell away from me" and the like. It's a good story and I enjoyed the character development, but bad characters don't HAVE to curse and swear -- especially in a story that's geared towards children. In sum, I wouldn't let a child under 12 or 13 listen to this story, and even then, it'd depend on the circumstances. It's not a must-listen story, marred by the brief albeit troublesome references I've just noted.

    5 of 11 people found this review helpful
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