Bud, Not Buddy
It's 1936, in Flint, Michigan, and when 10-year-old Bud decides to hit the road to find his father, nothing can stop him. From the Trade Paperback edition.
The curriculet is being added to your library
This is an example of a type of figurative language called "onomatopoeia." An onomatopoeia is a word that represents a sound. Watch the video below for more examples. (This annotation contains a video)
The phrase "Bud, not Buddy" is the title of this book. As you continue reading, consider why the author chose this phrase as the title of the whole novel.
The Great Depression started in the U.S. with the crashing of the stock market in 1929 (see image below of people gathering outside the stock market the day of the crash). It led to severe, worldwide economic problems and lasted until the government started spending money on World War II in the early 1940's. We recently experienced what people who study the economy call "The Great Recession" of 2008, where there were big economic problems, but not quite as severe as in the depression. (This annotation contains an image)
What does the highlighted passage tell you about the kind of person Bud is?
Do you remember losing your first tooth? Were you scared, as Bud describes?
How many years has Bud been in the foster system?
This "giant fiddle" is probably a string bass, as in the image below. (This annotation contains an image)
The story takes place in parts of Michigan. See the map below to learn exactly where Flint is. (This annotation contains an image)
Based on where Bud is in the start of the story, what do you think he means when he says he "found" his mother?
The first chapter of a novel usually establishes the exposition--characters, time and place--of a story. Watch this video to learn more about how the author may choose to structure this story. (This annotation contains a video)
What is the effect of setting off Bud's rule in a different style text?
In this sentence, the word "pop" is a(n)
This sentence is an example of a metaphor, a type of figurative language. In this case, it's comparing a fight to a bird's nest on the ground, meaning both would be easy to beat up. Watch the video below to learn more about metaphor, and it's close relative, the simile. (This annotation contains a video)
"He could hit like a mule" is an example of a
From the clues we've seen, we can infer that both Bud Caldwell and the Amoses are African American. We can also tell from their proper style of speech that the Amos's are much more well-to-do than Bud. As you continue reading, consider the role race plays in how Bud is treated by others.
Back then, men used straight-edged razors to shave their faces. They would sharpen them by rubbing the blade along the thick strap of leather. (This annotation contains an image)
John Dillinger, pictured below, was a famous bank robber during the Depression. (This annotation contains an image)
The highlighted sentence is an example of what type of figurative language?
Brer Rabbit (dialect for Brother Rabbit) is a character common in Southern African American folklore. He plays the trickster, who uses his wits to overcome challenges. Click on the link below to read a story with Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox. How is Bud behaving like Brer Rabbit in this situation? (This annotation contains a link)
List three details about the shed that make it a scary setting.
This is an example of a type of figurative language called "hyperbole." Watch the video below to learn more. (This annotation contains a video)
Notice that throughout the story, as Bud is narrating, he uses language that is full of slang and everyday expressions that a ten-year-old would use. This helps the reader hear Bud's voice.
Why is there so much fast, loud breathing going on in the shed?
It's just like a ten year old boy to tell disgusting stories. Do you know any that you like to tell about your friends?
In the African American storytelling tradition, it is common for stories to be told in more of a circular fashion, with one idea branching off to another before returning to the main story line. As you continue reading, notice how Bud's narration is not very linear, how it doesn't always progress straight from one idea to the next in the sequence, because he keeps adding in other stories that he's reminded of by his current situation.
What does the expression "he could kiss my wrist" mean?
Hornet stings are extremely painful because their venom contains a larger amount of a acetylcholine, a pain stimulant, than wasps or bees. Hornets can also sting their prey multiple times, unlike bees whose stingers get ripped off. Hornet stingers function similarly to wasp stingers, as in the image below. (This annotation contains an image)
What type of figurative language is the phrase "quick as a rabbit"?
Do you agree with Bud's claim that it's his job to make sure other foster children don't have to put up with Todd's abuse?
Why is it a surprise to Bud that the Amoses have hot water running into the house?
"Being in hot water" is a type of figurative language known as an "idiom." An idiom is an expression where the meanings of the individual words is totally different from the meaning of the saying as a whole. In this case, "being in hot water" means that Bud would be in big trouble. Watch the video below for more examples of common idioms and their meanings. (This annotation contains a video)
Watch the video to learn about conflict. You can see that now that Bud has run away from the Amoses, he has no place to go. Finding a new home is a conflict he has to deal with. (This annotation contains a video)
Pretty Boy Floyd, picture below, is another famous bank robber from the 1930's. Why do you think Bud keeps comparing his actions to theirs? (This annotation contains an image)
We can see that Bud will do anything he can to survive. This is the beginning evidence of a theme.
Why is the highlighted text in a different font?
A twenty-five-gallon hat does not hold twenty five gallons of water. It is thought that early Texas cowboys misheard the Spanish word "galón," which is the term for the braid around the crown part of the hat (see picture below), and turned it into the English word "gallon." The vaqueros, or Mexican cowboys, could have worn up to ten braids on their sombreros. A twenty-five-gallon hat would have originally meant there were twenty five braids. Now it just means a really big cowboy hat. (This annotation contains an image)
In the highlighted simile, what quality do Momma and a tornado have in common?
Why did Momma name her child Bud?
This advice from Bud's mom is another example of the themes of hope and survival.
A mission is an organization, often religious, dedicated to helping the poor.
How is Bud planning to deal with the fact that he is too late to get in line for breakfast?
In this context, the phrase "Clarence got a lickin'" means that
The sign with the white family on it has a saying that is unintentionally ironic. The sign is placed above a line of poor people who have to wait in line for food. Does that really fit with the positive saying "There's no place like America today"? View the video below to learn more about verbal irony. (This annotation contains a video)
How does Bud's pretend family treat him differently than the Amoses?
This paragraph is an excellent example of imagery, description that appeals to your senses and captures your imagination. Watch the video below to learn more about this writing technique, then re-read the beginning of this chapter. Can you picture yourself in the library with Bud, feeling the cool air and smelling the books? (This annotation contains a video)
The phrase "kicking the bucket" is what type of figurative language?
Remember that this story is taking place back in the 1930's, well before the Internet and computers were invented. Back then, people had to look up maps and distances in actual books, often with the help of a librarian. Librarians still are important resources and continue to help people find the information they need.
Bud learning that Miss Hill isn't around anymore to help him is an event that complicates the
This is the second time we've seen this idea about one door closing and another one opening. This suggests that the advice Bud's mother gave him may end up being a theme of the story, that Bud will stay hopeful about his future. Watch the video below to learn more about theme. Do you see any of the other themes mentioned in the video in the text? (This annotation contains a video)
The highlighted sentence is an example of what type of figurative language?
"Riding the rails" refers to the practice of traveling by freight train, but not with a ticket. Riders would grab hold of the side of the train as it started moving slowly and pull themselves up. They would then find an empty car to occupy. During the Depression, many people, including hundreds of thousands of teenagers, left home to try to find a better life. The problem was so large that in 1933 Warner Brothers produced a movie showing how dangerous the practice was in an attempt to prevent other teens from trying to hop on trains. Click on the link to watch the trailer from that movie. (This annotation contains a link)
Based on their conversation, what is important to Bud, and how is it different than what's important to Bugs?
This is another term for a harmonica, as seen below. (This annotation contains an image)
What trick does Bugs play on Bud by saying "Heads I win, tails you lose"?
The Library of Congress says that "during the Great Depression, many families lost their homes because they could not pay their mortgages. These people had no choice but to seek alternative forms of shelter. Hoovervilles, named after President Hoover, who was blamed for the problems that led to the depression, sprung up throughout the United States." After examining the photo below, how do you think life in a Hooverville would be different than the life you live now? (This annotation contains an image)
What does the idiom "we're all in the same boat" mean?
Bud notices that the Hooverville is home to people with all different skin colors. Do you think if Bud had been white that he would have been treated differently than he is? Why or why not?
Why does Bud not want to leave his suitcase with the woman?
Here we see evidence of another theme in the novel--the importance of family.
How is the advice Deza and Bud got from their parents the same?
Watch this scene from a play version of Bud, Not Buddy. Then keep reading the story until you get to the song lyrics, and answer the question there. (This annotation contains a video)
How does the video of the play differ from how the scene is actually written in the story? Why do you think the playwrite made those changes?
It's interesting to note that the author does not include Bud's reaction to this statement about being white and not needing a handout. How do you imagine Bud would feel?
The stories about the fox and the grapes or the dog seeing his reflection are both fables written by an ancient Greek named Aesop. A fable is a story that features animals acting like humans and contains a moral lesson.
Why are the words "a man screamed" in different font?
Many railroad companies would hire security guards to prevent people from riding the train illegally. These guards were called railroad "bulls."
Read through this page of interviews from people who rode the rails during the Depression. Then answer the question in the next box. (This annotation contains a link)
How is Bud's experience riding the rails similar to that of the people you read about in the previous interviews? How is his experience different?
How much time has passed since the last time Bud ate breakfast at the mission?
Bud is trying to figure out how long it will take him to walk to Grand Rapids. He divides the 120 mile distance by the speed he assumes he will walk, 5 miles per hour.
Here we see another development in the story's conflict. Will Bud be able to find his real father?
The author uses a(n) ____________ to compare ideas and seeds.
Bud uses a metaphor to compare his growing belief in his father's identity to a
This paragraph contains several examples of writing technique called "alliteration." View the video below to learn what this is. What alliteration do you see in the paragraph? (This annotation contains a video)
Follow this link to see a map of Michigan. Can you see Flint in the lower portion? Directly west is the city of Grand Rapids. In between are small towns named Owosso and St. Johns, which are on the route listed by Bud in the library. (This annotation contains a link)
List three differences Bud notices between being on the road to Grand Rapids and being in the city of Flint. Which setting do you think is more appealing to him?
Why does Bud infer that this man is a soldier?
Why do you think the man stopped his car and is trying to find Bud?
A bottle key is an old-fashioned bottle opener, as in the image below. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Bud not want to get too close to the man?
Bud worrying about this man taking him back to the Home or the Amoses is an example of the ________ in the story.
This must be the reason that the man keeps looking around and wants to get Bud off the street. He knows the people in the town could hurt them for being black.
Just like believing that the hornet's nest was a vampire bat in the Amos's shed, Bud immediately believes that this man is a vampire. This shows that Bud is a(n) _____________ person.
List two examples from this chapter that show to Bud is a resourceful person.
The image below shows the kind of teeth Bud is checking for. (This annotation contains an image)
When Bud pays close attention to the man putting the car in gear, this is an example of the theme of
The highlighted section is an example of which type of figurative language?
The real person was named Dorothy Jean Dandridge. She was an actress and popular singer and was the first African-American to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress. (This annotation contains an image)
The "Big War" at this time would have been World War I.
How do you know that the woman trying to wake Bud is Lefty Lewis's daughter?
What type of figurative language does the woman use to describe Bud?
Knickers were short pants that buckled below the knee often worn by younger boys in the 1930's, as in the image below. (This annotation contains an image)
Visit the webpage below and read a short introduction to Tuskegee, Alabama. Who was George Washington Carver? (This annotation contains a link)
How do you know that the boy is not very happy to see Bud?
It might be surprising to us that Bud had never tasted sausages before, but remember that this story is taking place a long time ago, and Bud grew up in an orphanage where there wasn't a lot of money.
What does the simile "bowed like a princess" mean?
When Bud pays very close attention to how the others at the table are eating and tries to copy them, this is an example of the theme of
A Pullman porter would have worked on the train cars where people slept, as in the image below. During the day, passengers would sit upright in the seats, but at night, the porters would turn the two facing seats into a bed. (This annotation contains an image)
Telegrams were how people sent messages when they needed the information to get someplace quickly. Below is a picture of what a telegram looked like. (This annotation contains an image)
Why is the telegram full of abbreviations and partial thoughts?
To "rat someone out" means that you tell on them and get them in trouble.
What inference can you make about the situation, based on Mr. Lewis's behavior?
Bud is imagining that Lefty is some kind of gangster, so he keeps using expressions that gangsters in the movies would have said, like "You'll never take us alive copper" and wondering if the "coppers" would "plug" or shoot him.
The highlighted phrase is an example of a(n)
Pullman porters formed the first all-black union, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. Formation of the union in 1925 was instrumental in the creation of the black middle class and the advancement of the Civil Rights Movement.
A Packard was a fancy car in the 1930's. In the image below, you can see that the spare tire is carried on fender of the car, instead of in the trunk where most are located now. (This annotation contains an image)
The name of the band, "Nubian Knights of the New Deal," is an example of
What phrase signals that there will be another complication in the conflict?
The Ku Klux Klan is a group that basically believes that the United States should only have white people in it because white people are superior to all other races. On the other hand, John Brown, pictured below, was a white abolitionist, which meant he was against slavery. He led a revolt at Harper's Ferry in 1859 in an attempt to free the slaves but was caught and sentenced to death. (This annotation contains an image)
One of Christopher Paul Curtis's (the author) grandfathers really was named "Lefty" Lewis and had a job as a red cap.
What can you infer about Jordan MacNevin from the phrase "this guy was one of us"?
Here we see more evidence of the theme of Bud staying hopeful.
Bud about to meet the man he thinks is his father, who could possibly take him in and care for him, is an example of the _______ in the story.
It sure sounds like Herman and Jimmy are absolutely positive that Herman can't be Bud's father. Imagine you're Bud, having traveled all this way. How would that make you feel?
Because the story is told from Bud's point of view, the reader is unable to
Here we see that Bud is starting to regret trying to find his father. Do you think it's fair for Bud to judge Herman when he's only just met him?
The phrase "my bread and butter" is an idiom that means
Do you think Bud really remembers the numbers of all his "rules"?
The phrase "you're a tough little nut" is an example of a(n)
The author gives the band members realistic personalities and things to say, which makes the reader imagine the situation more clearly. It also adds some humor to the story.
Notice again how the author incorporates imagery to make the reader feel part of the story.
Blind Lemon Jefferson, pictured below, was a blues singer and guitarist from Texas. He really was blind. (This annotation contains an image)
Every time a band member asks Bud about his past, he gives long, rambling answers. Why?
Another of Christopher Paul Curtis's (the author) grandfathers was a big band leader, and his band was really called "Herman Curtis and the Dusky Devastators of the Depression."
Okra is a vegetable that came from Africa. See the picture below. It will grow wherever there is a lot of sun. It is a popular dish in the South. (This annotation contains an image)
Why is Bud hesitant to explain why he thinks Herman Calloway is his father?
Why would this table be the only one not joining in the story-telling and laughing?
This is a very important moment in the story. Bud has been searching for a real home for a long time, and he finally feels loved and accepted.
Bud's nervousness about the two little doors shows what personality traits?
Do you check under your bed and in your closet for monsters before going to bed? Is it realistic for a 10-year-old to do so?
How do Miss Thomas and Herman Calloway treat Bud differently?
Bud's reaction to a bed with two sheets and a pillow makes the reader realize how things we take for granted are a true luxury to him.
The phrase "to fight like a tiger" is an example of what type of figurative language?
Old-fashioned toilets used to have a water tank high up on the wall, as in the picture below, so that gravity would force the water into the toilet bowl. Nowadays we have much better water pressure and toilet mechanics and can have the tank right behind the bowl. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Herman leave when Bud enters the kitchen?
The highlighted phrase is an example of what kind of figurative language?
We haven't seen any mention of Bud going to school before. He must be traveling during the summer months.
What evidence do you see of the theme of family and its importance?
This is similar to the list of rules that Bud has!
This is what a recorder looks like. It's often used to teach basic music skills like breathing, fingering and reading music. (This annotation contains an image)
Why is Steady sure that Bud is going to be a musician?
When a person is knighted, the queen taps him on each shoulder with a sword. This is the band's version of making Bud feel welcome.
The real title of the book is "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea." A league is a unit of length. Bud misunderstood what his mother was saying.
The phrase "It was a piece of cake" means
What similarities did you see between how Bud describes his life at the Home and what the situation was like for the girls in Annie?
At several points in the story, Bud makes mention of what life was like for him in the Home--what he ate, the kind of work he did, how he was treated, etc. Watch the video clip below from the movie, "Annie," also set in an orphanage during the Depression, and answer the next question in the reading. (This annotation contains a video)
This gold metal thing is an instrument called the suspended cymbal, as pictured below. (This annotation contains an image)
This is a type of jazz singing called "scat," where the singer sings nonsense syllables.
List four sensory details that Bud uses to describe the band's playing.
"Eighty-eights" is a slang term for the piano, which has eighty-eight keys.
What are the reasons that Herman keeps a white man in the band?
How has Bud's attitude about Herman changed since Bud first thought he was his father?
One dollar coins used to be as popular as dollar bills. Today, a coin like the one below would be worth anywhere from $30-$50. (This annotation contains an image)
The conflict continues to build. The rocks are a clue to Bud's family.
What clues tell you that Herman is getting upset?
Did you expect this? This is a surprising twist in the plot.
Bud still feels upset that Herman accused him of stealing the rocks, so from his point of view, he thinks Herman is acting
Can you imagine what this must have been like for Bud?
The highlighted phrase is an example of what type of figurative language?
Bud assumes that Herman is crying because they're related. What other reason might there be?
Would it really feel so different to walk out of the room frontwards? What deeper meaning might Bud be sharing with us about having faced his fear and done something difficult?
The highlighted passage where Herman explains why he is so hard on his daughter is an example of which theme?
Even after all that time, Angela's family was still hoping she would return. This is another development in the themes of hope and the importance of family.
Why was Herman so certain that Bud must have stolen the rocks he showed the band from the house?
The expression "slapped some skin" means the two men slapped their hands together, almost like a high-five.
A saxophone is a reed instrument, which means players need to attach a small piece of special wood to the mouthpiece so that when they blow air through the reed and mouthpiece into the instrument, the reed can vibrate and produce the sound. See the three main parts in the image below. The ligature is the small metal band that holds the wooden reed onto the plastic mouthpiece. (This annotation contains an image)
This is referring to repairing the keys on the saxophone.
What does Doo-Doo Bug mean when he says "'Ohhh, now that's cold'"?
Why do you think Bud says that his Momma was "kind of old when I met her." Can a child really "meet" his parent?
Which of the following words from the highlighted paragraph is an example of onomatopoeia?
Here we see again that Bud is hopeful about the future.
If you enjoyed this story, check out Christopher Paul Curtis's website below. You can check out other books he wrote and watch interviews with him. (This annotation contains a link)