Bud, Not Buddy

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Bud, Not Buddy
Bud, Not Buddy.jpg
Front cover of Bud, Not Buddy.
AuthorChristopher Paul Curtis
CountryUnited States
GenreAdult humor, Multicultural fiction, Historical fiction
PublisherDelacorte Books for Adult Readers
Publication date
Media typePrint (hardback & paperback)
Pages245 pages
LC ClassPZ7.C94137 Bu 1999

Bud, Not Buddy is a children's novel written by Christopher Paul Curtis, published in 1999. The book received the 2000 Newbery Medal for excellence in American children's literature. Christopher Paul Curtis was also recognized with the 2000 Coretta Scott King Award, an award given to outstanding African-American authors. Bud, Not Buddy was also recognized with the William Allen White Children's Book Award for grades 6-8. [1][2][3]

Bud Caldwell is a ten-year-old orphan, living in Flint, Michigan, in 1936. Since the death of his mother four years earlier, Bud has been living in an orphanage and had short stints in several foster homes. The few items he has left of his mother include a blanket, a bag of rocks, a photograph of his mother as a child, and flyers that show Herman E. Calloway and his jazz band, the Dusky Devastators of the Depression.


The story opens with Bud being placed with a new foster family, the Amoses. Bud soon meets Todd Amos, their 12-year-old son, who teases him mercilessly and calls him Buddy. After a fight with Todd, Bud is forced to spend the night in the garden shed. In the shed, he mistakes a hornet nest for a vampire bat and hits the nest with a rake. This upsets the hornets and Bud gets stung. During his adrenaline rush, he breaks through the window of the shed.

After escaping the shed, Bud takes revenge on Todd by making him wet his bed by pouring warm water on Todd. He escapes and sleeps under a Christmas tree for the night. His friend Bugs wakes him up so they can go to the West.

Bud runs away with Bugs. They try to hop on a train, but Bud fails to make it and is left behind. Bud starts walking to Grand Rapids, Michigan. On the way, he meets Lefty Lewis, who gives him a ride in his car to Grand Rapids to find his father, who he believes is Herman E. Calloway. He stays with Lefty for a short while, then leaves to find his father.

Bud meets Herman and his band and declares himself to be Herman's son, though his confidence is shaken when he sees that Herman is elderly. The band treats Bud with kindness, but Herman treats Bud with great animosity. Bud delivers the news that his mom, Angela, is dead. This brings great grief to Herman, who is revealed to in fact be Bud's grandfather and Angela's estranged father.

The story ends with Bud becoming friends with the band members and receives a horn. Herman apologizes to Bud for his animosity and allows him to stay with him and the band. Despite all of his dilemmas and all of his grief, Bud may finally have a happy ending.

Stage adaptation[edit]

Bud, Not Buddy was adapted for the stage by Reginald Andre Jackson[4] for Black History Month, in Fremont, California. The production premiered in 2006 at the Langston Hughes Cultural Arts Center. It has been produced several times, including at the Children's Theatre Company in Minneapolis, Main Street Theatre in Houston, the University of Michigan-Flint and Children's Theatre of Charlotte. Jackson's adaptation was published by Dramatic Publishing in 2009, it won the Distinguished Play Award (Adaptation) from The American Alliance for Theatre and Education in 2010.[4]

Preceded by
Newbery Medal recipient
Succeeded by
A Year Down Yonder
Preceded by
Coretta Scott King Author Award
Succeeded by
Miracle's Boys
Preceded by
Winner of the
William Allen White Children's Book Award
Grades 6–8

Succeeded by
Dovey Coe