It’s 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:
1. He has his own suitcase filled with his own important, secret things.
2. He’s the author of Bud Caldwell’s Rules and Things for Having a Funner Life and Making a Better Liar Out of Yourself.
3. His momma never told him who his father was, but she left a clue: flyers of Herman E. Calloway and his famous band, the Dusky Devastators of the Depression!!!!!!
Bud’s got an idea that those flyers will lead him to his father. Once he decides to hit the road and find this mystery man, nothing can stop him–not hunger, not fear, not vampires, not even Herman E. Calloway himself.
Miss Riki’s Review:
What a treat this novel was! I picked up this novel as required reading for a course in young adult literature, and ended up absolutely loving it. What stands out the most from this book is the irrepressible, fantastic voice of Bud (not Buddy). He’s precocious and sweet and the perfect narrator. I did find him to read a little bit young for a young adult novel, (maybe more middle grade?) but his well-mannered charm and keen observations about the world around him won me over.
Set in Flint, Michigan during the Depression, this book is full of wonderful setting and details that bring the town and the time period to life. When Bud finally makes it to meet Herman E. Calloway himself, the jazz world is highly engaging and exciting.
After a bad experience in a foster home, Bud takes his beat up old suitcase full of memories of his mother and hopes for a father on a journey in search of the man himself. Along the way he’s met with the incredible kindness of strangers and buoyed by the hope of a new life. When he finally meets Herman E. Calloway, he finds not just a father figure, but also a rag-tag group of unlikely role models who take him in and make him family.
Christopher Paul Curtis masterfully tackles complex social issues such as poverty and homelessness in this novel with such tenderness and hope. You’ll fall in love with the determination of Bud and will both laugh and cry with him on his journey.