“Rules and Things Number 29: When You Wake Up and Don’t Know for Sure Where You’re At and There’s a Bunch of People Standing Around You, It’s Best to Pretend You’re Still Asleep Until You Can Figure Out What’s Going On and What You Should Do”
Bud (not Buddy, never Buddy) is an orphan, or so he thinks. His mom died, and she never talked about his dad. In the middle of the Great Depression, life isn’t easy for anyone, much less for orphans. When Bud’s prank gets him in trouble at the group home, and he get sent back to the orphanage, he decides it’s best for him to set out on his own. He tries his hand at train-hopping, eats out of a can in a hobo camp, and is tricked by a mustard sandwich into accepting a car ride that will change his life forever. See, he’s trying to find the legendary bandleader, H. E. Calloway, the man he believes to be his father, and all he knows is that he has to get to Grand Rapids. After that, he figures, things will work themselves out.
This book has been on my to-read list since a classmate gave a book talk on it last year, and I’m so pleased to finally have read it. It’s hilarious! You wouldn’t think that the plight of an orphan runaway during the Great Depression would allow for much levity, but Bud’s constant inner narrative is insightful and droll. My favorite was his long list of “Rules and Things”, which are all quite true, and you’ll be happy to read things that you’ve thought, but never been brave enough to say. Honestly, in setting and resolution, it reminded me of Wonderstruck, which was a really pleasant surprise for me; it would be nice to read these two books right after one another.
This book is written for upper elementary and middle schoolers; it is a quick, funny read with substance. I enjoyed it a lot! I think it would be a great read-aloud classroom book: interesting to both male and female students, and set in a historical time period that would be fun to study.
Curtis, Christopher Paul. Bud, Not Buddy. Random House: New York, 1999. 243 pp.
If you like this, please, please try Wonderstruck!