Whenever an Adult Tells You to Listen Carefully and Talks in a Real Calm Voice,
don’t listen, run as fast as you can because something Real Terrible
is Just Around the Corner
If an Adult Tells You Not to Worry, and You Weren’t Worried Before,
You better Hurry Up and Start ‘Cause You’re Already Running Late
These rules may seem like nonsense to you, but to Bud, they’re lessons on how an abandoned child survives during the Depression. Bud knows the Public Library is a good, warm, place and late-comers to the Mission don’t get fed. He also knows the world hasn’t been a safe place since his Mom died four years ago. All she left him was a love of reading, the knowledge that his name is Bud, (not Buddy), some posters and painted rocks. Based on wishful thinking and the posters she kept, Bud believes his father is a musician named Herman Calloway. When the orphanage and foster home system fail at keeping him safe, Bud decides it’s time to hit the road and find his father.
Bud, Not Buddy is historical fiction, but the history is recent, and the story doesn’t stray far from the truth. Christopher Paul Curtis incorporated the stories of his grandfathers’ talents and drive into the book: one, a redcap and baseball player who pitched against the great Satchel Paige, and the other, a classically trained violinist turned band leader who used ingenuity to succeed in business, despite the Depression and discriminatory statutes in effect. Bud’s quest for a home is a hero’s journey, although he doesn’t see himself that way, and the story contains one of the best descriptions of jazz I’ve ever read. If you missed this award winner when it first came out (like I did), do yourself a favor and meet a good kid named Bud. You can never go wrong by meeting nice folks. And that’s a rule of mine.