Christopher Paul Curtis

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Christopher Paul Curtis
Christopher Paul Curtis.JPG
Curtis in 2014.
Born (1953-05-10) May 10, 1953 (age 61)
Flint, Michigan, USA
Occupation Writer, speaker
Alma mater University of Michigan–Flint
Period 1995–present
Genre Children's literature, especially historical fiction
Notable works
Notable awards Newbery Medal
2000
Website
nobodybutcurtis.com

Christopher Paul Curtis (born May 10, 1953)[1][2] is an African-American writer of children's books. He may be known best for the Newbery Medal-winning Bud, Not Buddy and the critically acclaimed The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963.

Early life and education[edit]

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. He has set many of his books in Flint.

Curtis is a product of the Flint school system.[clarification needed] He attended Dewey Elementary, Clark Elementary, Pierce Elementary (in the Academically Gifted Program), Whittier Junior High School, and 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). He graduated from Flint Southwestern High School in 1972.[3] He graduated from the University of Michigan–Flint in 2000.[4]

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

Work and writing career[edit]

Curtis spent 13 years after high school working on the assembly line of Flint’s Fisher Body Plant #1.[3] His job entailed hanging car doors on Electra 225s and LeSabres. He later claimed his experience 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.

In 2009, he received a Doctor of Laws honoris causa from the University of Windsor. Curtis won the 2009 Anne V. Zarrow Award for Young Readers' Literature, which honors a "nationally acclaimed author who has made a significant contribution to the field of literature and young adults".

Curtis appeared on The Tavis Smiley Show on PBS on January 11, 2005. He appeared on The Today Show Book Club in 2007.

Published books[edit]

  • The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963 (1996) – 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. The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963 was a runner-up for the Newbery Medal and was selected as a top book of the year by many publications and organizations. In 2013, it was named as one of the New York Public Library’s 100 Great Children's Books of the Last 100 Years.
  • Bud, Not Buddy (1999) – It is 1936 in Flint, Michigan. Times may be hard, and ten-year-old Bud may be a motherless boy on the run, but he has a few things going for him. Bud goes to find who he believes is his father, a man named Herman E. Calloway. Curtis modeled characters in Bud, Not Buddy after his two grandfathers: Earl "Lefty" Lewis, a Negro league baseball pitcher, and Herman E. Curtis, leader of Herman Curtis and the Dusky Devastators during the Great Depression. Bud, Not Buddy won the 2000 Newbery Medal, given annually by the Association for Library Service to Children to "the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children." It also won the Coretta Scott King Award, and was chosen as the best book of the year by the School Library Journal.
  • Bucking the Sarge (2004) – Luther T. Farrell has got to get out of Flint, Michigan. He just needs to escape the evil empire of the local slumlord, "The Sarge", aka his mother. Bucking the Sarge was selected as one of the best children's books of the year by various publications and organizations, including Publishers Weekly.
  • Mr. Chickee's Messy Mission (2008) – 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 (2007) – 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. Mr. Chickee's Funny Money was a Parents' Choice Award winner.
  • Elijah of Buxton (2007) – A story based on the historic settlement of North Buxton, Ontario, developed for and by former African-American slaves who escaped to Canada on the Underground Railroad. They were known as Negro refugees in Canada. Elijah of Buxton was a runner-up for the Newbery Medal, and won the Coretta Scott King Award.
  • The Madman of Piney Woods (October 2014) – Returns readers to Buxton, Ontario, this time in 1901. It is told in alternating chapters, by two twelve-year-old boys. Alvin "Red" Stockard is an Irish boy living in nearby Chatham, Ontario, and Benjamin "Benji" Alston, is a Black Canadian boy who lives in the settlement of Buxton; he is a descendant of African-American slaves who gained freedom in Canada via the Underground Railroad. Several characters from Elijah of Buxton make brief appearances in this work.

Curtis also edited Bites: Scary Stories to Sink Your Teeth Into, a collection of scary children's stories published in 2010 by Scholastic.

Awards/Honors/Nominations[edit]

THE WATSONS GO TO BIRMINGHAM-1963

  • Coretta Scott King Honor Book.
  • A Publisher's Weekly Best Book Of The Year.
  • A New York Times Book Review Best Book Of The Year.
  • A California Young Reader Medal Winner.
  • A Maine Student Book Award Winner.
  • An American Library Association (ALA) Best Books For Young Adults.
  • An ALA Notable Children's Book.
  • A Horn Book Fanfare.
  • A Texas Lone Star Reading List Title.
  • A Bank Street College Best Book Of The Year.
  • A Massachusetts Children's Book Award Winner.
  • A NCSS-CBC Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies.
  • A NCSS-CBC Notable Children's Trade Book In The field of Language Arts.
  • A New Mexico Land Of Enchantment Book Award Winner.
  • An Arkansas Charlie May Simon Children's Book Award Winner.
  • A Society of Children's Book Writers and illustrators Golden Kite Award Winner.
  • A New York Times' Top One Hundred Books Of The Year, 1996. (The only book for young readers to be so honored.)
  • A Jane Addams Peace Award Honor Book.
  • An American Library Association Top Ten Best Book/Quick Pick.
  • An International Reading Association Notable Book For a Global Society.
  • An Indiana Department of Education Read Aloud List Book.
  • A Bulletin For the Center of Children's Books Blue Ribbon.
  • A Booklist Top 25 Black History Picks for Youth Book.
  • An International Reading Association Young Adult Choice.
  • A 1995 Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Golden Kite Award.
  • A New Mexico Land Of Enchantment Book Award Winner.
  • A Top Choice List of 2000 for Children's Literature.
  • A Virginia Young Reader's Program Book.
  • A Indiana Young Hoosier Book Award Nominee.
  • A Nevada Young Reader Award Nominee.
  • A Nebraska Golden Sower Award Nominee.
  • A Missouri Mark Twain Award Nominee.
  • A Minnesota Maud Hart Lovelace Book Award Nominee.
  • A Michigan Reading Association Children's Choic Award Nominee.
  • A Kansas William Allen White Award Nominee.
  • A Illinois Rebecca Caudill Award Nominee.
  • A Hawaii Nene Award Nominee
  • A USBBY Janusz Korzak Literary Prize Nominee.
  • A New Hampshire Great Stoneface Book Award Nominee.
  • A Tennessee Volunteer State Award Nominee.
  • A South Carolina Junior Book Award Nominee.
  • A Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Award Nominee.
  • A Pacific Northwest Young Reader's Choice Award Nominee.
  • A Oklahoma Sequoyah Young Adult Book Award Nominee.
  • 2013 named by The New York Public Library as one of the 100 GREAT CHLDREN’S BOOKS IN THE LAST 100 YEARS.

BUD, NOT BUDDY.

  • A 2000 Newbery Medal Winner. (First African-American man to win the award.)
  • A 2000 Coretta Scott KIng Author Award Winner.
  • A School Library Journal Best Book Of The Year.
  • An International Readers Association (IRA) Children's Book Award For Older Readers.
  • A NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book.
  • A Publisher's Weekly Best Book Of The Year.
  • An ALA Best Books For Young Adults.
  • An ALA Notable Children's Book.
  • A New York Times Notable Book.
  • A Bulletin For The Center of Children's Books Blue Ribbon book.
  • An Arizona Young Readers Award winner (Teen Category).
  • A Florida Sunshine State Young Readers Award.
  • A Virginian Capitol Choices List.
  • A Massachusetts Chiildren's Book Award Honor Book.
  • A New Mexico Book Of Enchantment Book Award Winner.
  • A Pacific Northwest Young Reader's Choice Award Winner.
  • A Young Reader's Choice Award.
  • A Sugar Maple Awards Winner Grades 4-6
  • A Hawaii Nene Award Winner.
  • A Kentucky Bluegrass Award Winner.
  • A Kansas William White Award Winner.
  • A Tennessee Volunteer State Award Winner.
  • A South Dakota Prairie Pasque Award Winner.
  • A Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Award Winner.
  • A Vermont Dorothy Canfield Fisher Book Award Winner.
  • A SCBWI Golden Kite Award Winner.
  • A Great Lakes Booksellers Association Children's Chapter Book Award Winner.
  • Booklist Top Ten Historical Fiction For Youth.
  • A Louisiana Young Reader's Choice Award Nominee.
  • A Illinois Rebecca Caudill Young Reader's Book Nominee.
  • A South Carolina Junior Book Award Nominee.
  • A Wyoming Indian Paintbrush Award Nominee.
  • A Wisconsin Golden Archer Book Award Nominee.
  • A Ohio Buckeye Children's Book Award Grade 6-8 Nominee.
  • A North Dakota Flicker Tale Children's Book Award Nominee.
  • A Texas Bluebonnet Award Nominee.***

MR. CHICKEE'S FUNNY MONEY

  • A Parent's Choice Gold Award Winner.

BUCKING THE SARGE

  • An ALA Best Books For Young Adults.
  • An ALA Notable Children's Book.
  • A Great Lakes Booksellers Association Children's Chapter Book Award.
  • A Booklist Children's Editors Choice Award.
  • A USA Today Best Young Adult Book.
  • A SCBWI Golden Kite Award For Fiction Honor Book.
  • A School Library Journal Best Book Of The Year.
  • A Texas Tayhas High School Reading List Title.
  • A Publisher's Weekly Best Children's Book Of The Year.

ELIJAH OF BUXTON

  • A Newbery Honor Book.
  • Coretta Scott King Award Winner.
  • A School Library Journal Best Book.
  • A Parent's Choice Gold Award Winner.
  • IRA Notable Book For A Global Society.
  • A Publisher's Weekly Best Book.
  • A Booklist Editor's Choice.
  • A Scott O'Dell Award Winner.
  • A Kirkus Best Book.
  • A Horn Book Fanfare Book.
  • A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book.
  • A Booklinks Lasting Connections Book.
  • A TD Canadian Children's Literature Award Winner.
  • A Governor General's Award Children's Text Finalist.
  • A Canadian Library Association Book Of The Year.
  • An NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book For Young People.
  • A White Ravens by the International Youth Library of 2008, German Award.
  • A Geoffrey Bilson Award For Historical Fiction For Young People Award Winner.
  • A Jane Addams Peace Association of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom Book for Older Children Honor Award.
  • A Great Lakes Book Sellers Association's Children's Chapter Book Award.
  • A Red Maple Award Nominee.
  • An NAACP Image Award Nominee.
  • A 2008 Michigan Notable Author Award Winner

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Judy Levin, Allison Stark Draper, Christopher Paul Curtis (The Rosen Publishing Group, 2005), ISBN 978-1-4042-0458-4, p.84 (excerpt available at Google Books).
  2. ^ Frequently Asked Questions at Random House website.
  3. ^ a b Carol Azizian, "Flint native wins second Newbery Honor Award for children's book", Flint Journal, January 14, 2008.
  4. ^ "Alumnus Honored with Second Newberry", University of Michigan–Flint, March 31, 2009.

External links[edit]