The Watsons Go To Birmingham 1963 By Christopher Paul Curtis novel packet name



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The Watsons Go To Birmingham - 1963

By Christopher Paul Curtis

NOVEL PACKET

Name: __________________

Class: _______


Use this packet to assist you in understanding the novel. It will come in handy as a study guide for quizzes, tests, and OEQs. Upon completion of the novel, the packet will be collected. . Keep it safe! You will only get one copy.

The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 Anticipation Guide

Directions: Rate the following statements before you read the story. After you have completed the novel, revisit the ratings again in light of the story.

Strongly Agree 1------------2------------3------------4------------5------------6 Strongly Disagree



Before Reading…

STATEMENT

After Reading…




  1. All Americans have freedom.







  1. One event can change your life.







  1. You can judge a person based on the way they look.







  1. In a loving family, family members should always agree.







  1. Being an adult is easier than being a child.







  1. Parents always know how to discipline their children correctly.







  1. Older brothers and sisters should protect their younger siblings.







  1. Serious family problems can be humorous.







  1. The world is a fair and just place.







  1. The decisions I make affect other people.







  1. Birmingham, Alabama was a peaceful place in 1963.







  1. People who look different than the majority are always less intelligent.







  1. Sometimes it is okay to bully another individual.







  1. Where you grow up influences your beliefs.







  1. People who hurt others are always punished for their actions.







  1. People are threatened by the unknown.







  1. Not understanding a culture can be dangerous.







  1. One event can change your entire life.







  1. True heroes are those that see something is wrong and are not afraid to stand up and ask, “Why can’t we change this?”







  1. A secret should ALWAYS be kept.







CHARACTERS IN THE NOVEL




Kenny Watson

ten-year-old boy, the story’s narrator




Joetta Watson

Kenny’s younger sister




Daniel Watson/Dad

Kenny’s father




Buphead

Byron’s friend




Rufus Fry

Kenny’s friend




Byron Watson

Kenny’s thirteen-year-old brother




Wilona Watson/Momma

Kenny’s mother




Grandma Sands

Kenny’s grandmother, Wilona’s mother




Larry Dunn

Byron and Kenny’s classmate




LJ Jones

Kenny’s friend


VOCABULARY YOU WILL NEED TO KNOW…

accustomed

to be familiar with or used to something

boycott

to refuse to buy something or to take part in something as a way of making a protest

bravo

well done!

cockeyed or lazy-eyed

cross-eyed or having an eye that squints or slants

cracker

an offensive term used to describe a class of poor white people in parts of the southeastern United States

crouched

to bend or squat down

curiosity

to be interested in or nosey about something

delinquent

a criminal or someone known for getting in trouble

discrimination

prejudice or unjust behavior to others based on differences in age, race, or gender

dispersal

spreading or scattering out

drowsy

sleepy or tired

eavesdrop

to listen in or to overhear something not intended for you

egghead

a smart person

emulate

to follow or imitate

facilities

a place to be used by the public

frostbite

damage to skin caused by over exposure to the cold

generate

to produce or create something

grapevine

If you hear information through the grapevine, you hear it unofficially or as a rumor.

haphazardly

chaotically or randomly

heroic

daring, brave, or courageous

hillbilly

a negative term used for a person from a backwoods area, especially from the mountains or from the southern United States

hostile

aggressive, unfriendly, antagonistic

hypnotized

mesmerized or spellbound; in a trance

imitate

to copy or mimic someone or something

interracial

mixed races

intimidate

to threaten, frighten, scare, or bully someone

jabber

to talk in a fast, confused, or foolish way that is hard to understand

jacked up

beat up

liberate

to release or free

linoleum

a hard, washable floor covering formed by coating burlap or canvas with linseed oil, powdered cork, and rosin, and adding pigments to create the desired colors and patterns

Nazi

a member of the National Socialist German Workers' party of Germany, which in 1933, under Adolf Hitler, seized political control of the country, suppressing all opposition and establishing a dictatorship over all cultural, economic, and political activities of the people

pan

to criticize someone or something harshly

peon

a person who does hard or boring work for little or nothing in return

pervasive

extending throughout

picketing

to protest or strike

pinnacle

at the top of, or peak

pomade

a scented ointment, especially one used for the scalp or for dressing the hair

punctual

on time

quest

a long search in order to find something

radioactive

the phenomenon when something spontaneously emits radiation

raggedy

tattered, torn or frayed

reinforcements

your backup or support

reputation

your standing or status, what others think of you

salute

to gesture or acknowledge with respect

sanitation

hygiene or cleanliness

scowl

to glare, frown or grimace

segregate

to separate or keep people or things apart

seniority

the state of being older or higher in standing

slew

a bunch, a lot

sonic boom

the loud noise produced by a vehicle, usually an aircraft, when it travels faster than the speed of sound and breaks the sound barrier

staggered

to move unsteadily

strangling

gripping fiercely

suspenders

adjustable straps or bands worn over the shoulders with the ends buttoned or clipped to the waistband of a pair of trousers or a skirt to support it.

temptations

something that lures or attracts

thermostat

a device that functions to establish and maintain a desired temperature automatically or signals a change in temperature for manual adjustment.

thug

a rough, violent person

traplines

a series of animal traps

trespass

to enter someone’s private property without permission

unveil

to reveal or make public

wadded

balled up

welfare

financial or other assistance to an individual or family from a city, state, or national government

whirlpool

a vortex

The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 Chapter 1 Guided Reading Questions

Just jot down quick answers to be sure you understood the main ideas of the chapter.


  1. Why is the Watson family huddled on the couch together?



  1. How does Momma feel about Birmingham, Alabama? How does Dad feel about Birmingham, Alabama?



  1. What is “The Brown Bomber”?



  1. How does Byron get himself stuck to the car mirror? How do they separate Bryon from the mirror?



  1. How does Dad react to Byron being stuck? What does this reveal about his character?



  1. What interesting language does the author use to describe how cold it is in Flint?



  1. How does Hambone Henderson try to discourage Wilona from marrying Mr. Watson? What do you think Mr. Watson thinks of Hambone? How can you tell?



  1. What kind of relationship does Kenny have with his brother, Byron?

The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 Chapter 2 Guided Reading Questions

Just jot down quick answers to be sure you understood the main ideas of the chapter.


  1. Who is Larry Dunn?



  1. What grade is Kenny in?


  1. Why do you think Kenny is afraid when he realizes that the reading he has been chosen to do will be for Byron’s class? What happens after the reading that surprises Kenny?



  1. Why does Mr. Alums believe it is vital for his students to be able to read well? (Page 23)



  1. What do we learn about Kenny’s physical appearance?


  1. Generally, who prevents people from teasing Kenny in school?


  1. According to Kenny, what is a “personal saver”? (Page 28)



  1. Describe the new kid and his little brother who both ride on Kenny’s bus. What do they wear? How do they talk? What can we tell about their personalities?




  1. Why does Kenny believe that the new kid is his “personal saver”?

The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 Chapter 3 Guided Reading Questions

Just jot down quick answers to be sure you understood the main ideas of the chapter.

  1. Describe Rufus Fry.



  1. Why doesn’t Kenny want Rufus to sit next to him in school?



  1. Where is Rufus from?



  1. Why do you think Rufus and his brother, Cody, always eat Kenny’s second sandwich during lunch?



  1. Who is LJ Jones? Why do you think Kenny is friends with LJ, even though LJ isn’t nice to him?



  1. How does LJ trick Kenny at the end of The World’s Greatest Dinosaur War Ever?



  1. Kenny says that people stop teasing him and begin to target Rufus because there are two things wrong with him. What are these two things?



  1. Why does Rufus stop hanging out with Kenny?



  1. How does Kenny feel about what he did to Rufus?



  1. What makes Rufus decide to hang out with Kenny again? Why does Kenny end up thinking that Rufus is a better friend than LJ?



  1. How was Rufus’s life in Arkansas different than it is in Flint?

The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 Chapter 4 Guided Reading Questions

Just jot down quick answers to be sure you understood the main ideas of the chapter.


  1. What does Momma make her children do so that they are protected from the cold?


  1. What does Byron remind Kenny of when he complains about having to take care of Joetta?


  1. What does Byron tell Joetta in order to make her stop whining about the amount of clothes she has to wear outside?


  1. What is special about Kenny’s gloves?



  1. What trick does Kenny pull on Momma in order to help Rufus? How does his plan backfire?


  1. Who does Kenny believe stole his pair of leather gloves?



  1. What does Byron try to get Kenny to do to Larry?



  1. Why does Kenny regret telling Byron about the stolen gloves?


  1. What kind of relationship does Kenny have with Joetta? Can you give examples of things that happen between them that make you think that?


  1. Why do you think Byron stops Larry Dunn from giving Kenny a “Super Maytag” when Byron often plays similar tricks on Kenny himself?


  1. How does the author make the reader sympathize with Larry Dunn?

The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 Chapter 5 Guided Reading Questions

Just jot down quick answers to be sure you understood the main ideas of the chapter.

  1. Find two examples of hyperbole in chapter 5.

1.

2.


  1. Why is Momma so sensitive to the idea of Byron playing with matches?



  1. How do you think Joetta and Kenny feel when Momma tells them to get matches so that she can burn Byron? Why?



  1. Why didn’t Byron run away when Kenny told him to?



  1. Even though he feels bad for Byron, Kenny thinks he deserves to be punished. Why?



  1. What is Joetta told that makes her think that Momma does have to burn Byron?



  1. How come Byron never gets burned?



  1. Do you think Momma’s punishment would have been a fair consequence for Byron’s actions? Why or why not?



  1. Why do you think Mrs. Watson speaks “Southern-style” when she gets angry?

  2. The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 Chapter 6 Guided Reading Questions

Just jot down quick answers to be sure you understood the main ideas of the chapter.


  1. Why does Byron think that the family is on welfare?



  1. Why is Kenny afraid that the family is on welfare? How does he say it would affect him?



  1. Why do you think Byron was in such a good mood on the walk home from the store?



  1. Why does Kenny claim he can’t tell on Byron for signing for the cookies?



  1. How did Byron ruin the perfect day?



  1. What is Byron’s reaction to the bird he killed? How does the author show that Byron is not as tough as he pretends to be?



  1. What does his reaction reveal about his character?



  1. Does Kenny think he understands Byron by the end of the chapter?


The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 Chapter 7 Guided Reading Questions

Just jot down quick answers to be sure you understood the main ideas of the chapter.


  1. On page 87, Kenny realizes that Momma is angry when he says “Uh-oh.” How does he know Momma is not happy?



  1. What does Byron decide to do that upsets Momma?



  1. How does Joetta react when she sees Byron’s hair and thinks about what might happen to him?



  1. How does Kenny react to the situation? How does this differ from Joetta’s reaction?



  1. Does Byron think about what might happen to him before he makes a decision?



  1. What is the consequence to Byron’s decision? Do you think it was fair?



  1. Why do you think Momma and Dad call Grandma Sands at the end of the chapter?

The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 Chapter 8 Guided Reading Questions

Just jot down quick answers to be sure you understood the main ideas of the chapter.


  1. Why do you think Kenny is so eager to have a real mustache like his dad’s?


  1. Why do the Watsons think sending Byron to Alabama will help him to behave better? Do you think it will work?



  1. What is an ultra-glide? Using persuasive techniques, draw an advertisement below for one. Use the entire space and be sure to add color!

The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 Chapter 9 Guided Reading Questions

Just jot down quick answers to be sure you understood the main ideas of the chapter.


  1. According to Dad, why does Byron have to go to Alabama?



  1. What has been on the news lately? What were the “Negro kids” trying to do?



  1. What does Byron have to be ready for?



  1. Does Kenny think Momma and Dad are good parents for sending Byron to Alabama? Why does he think so?



  1. What does Dad claim being a grownup is like?



  1. What gift does Mrs. Davidson give to Joetta? How come Joetta doesn’t like the gift?



  1. Why does Byron have to sleep in his parent’s room on his last night in Flint?



  1. In what cities do the Watsons plan on stopping in order to sleep?



  1. How come the Watsons can’t just drive until they are tired and find a place to sleep wherever they are?



  1. What is Byron’s plan for payback during the car ride? Does he stick to his plan?

The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 Chapter 10 Guided Reading Questions

Just jot down quick answers to be sure you understood the main ideas of the chapter.


  1. What is different between Michigan toilets and Ohio toilets?




  1. How come Byron and Kenny both don’t enjoy the task of having Joetta’s head in their laps as she sleeps?




  1. What plan of Dad’s does Kenny overhear?




  1. What is Kenny referring to when he sees “the scariest things” he’s ever seen? Describe them.




  1. What is different about the sky in Tennessee as compared to Michigan?




  1. What does Byron believe “the rednecks” could do to them?



  1. Describe what the Watson family is doing when Dad says, “I think we’ve got our fingers in God’s beard and as we drive along we’re tickling him.”



  1. Why does Kenny ask for a second serving of Kool-Aid, even though it tastes bad to him?

The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 Chapter 11 Guided Reading Questions

Just jot down quick answers to be sure you understood the main ideas of the chapter.


  1. How is Birmingham like Flint? How is it different?



  1. How did Dad make the family go to sleep?




  1. What does Kenny think Birmingham looks like?




  1. What did Kenny expect Grandma Sands to look like?




  1. What does Grandma Sands really look like?




  1. What does Joey do when she meets Grandma Sands?




  1. How does Byron act when he meets Grandma Sands? What reason does Byron give for the way he acts?




  1. Who do you think Mr. Robert is?

The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 Chapter 12 Guided Reading Questions

Just jot down quick answers to be sure you understood the main ideas of the chapter.


  1. What is the temperature like in Birmingham?



  1. How did Mr. Robert save his dog’s life?



  1. According to Kenny, how are Grandma Sands and Byron alike?



  1. Does Byron seem to like Birmingham?



  1. How does Mrs. Watson act differently when she is with her mother in Alabama compared with how she acts at home in Flint?

The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 Chapter 13 Guided Reading Questions

Just jot down quick answers to be sure you understood the main ideas of the chapter.


  1. What happened a couple years ago at Collier’s Landing?



  1. Byron decides that Grandma Sands said that the “Wool Pooh” got Miss Thomas’ son at Collier’s Landing. What word did Grandma Sands really say?



  1. What kind of humor is this?



  1. What does Byron claim the Wool Pooh does?




  1. How has Byron changed since he left Flint? Does he seem to think about the decisions he makes? Why do you think he has changed so suddenly?



  1. Why does Kenny think it is okay to swim at Collier’s Landing?



  1. Who does Kenny first see in the water with him?




  1. Who saves Kenny from the Wool Pooh?




  1. How does Byron feel after he saves Kenny? How does he act?

The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 Chapter 14 Guided Reading Questions

Just jot down quick answers to be sure you understood the main ideas of the chapter.

  1. Where do the neighbors take Joetta on Sunday?



  1. What was Joetta wearing when she left?



  1. What was the noise that Kenny and the neighborhood heard?



  1. What is the only thing Kenny can think about after Byron tells him the news on page 183?



  1. What things does Kenny see when he arrives at the church? How does the author describe the scene at the church, after it has been bombed?



  1. What does Kenny see pulling the other end of the shoe that he reaches for? Why do you think that is?



  1. When Kenny leaves the church, where does he go?



  1. Whose shoe does Kenny think he took from the rubble?



  1. What does Kenny think is happening when shows up at his room?



  1. Why did Joetta leave the church? Who saved her?

The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 Chapter 15 Guided Reading Questions

Just jot down quick answers to be sure you understood the main ideas of the chapter.


  1. Why does Byron spend so much time with Kenny when they come back to Flint?


  1. Why does Kenny start going to the World-Famous Watson Pet Hospital so often?


  1. How does Byron help Kenny to feel better at the end of the book?


AFTER READING – Recapping the Six Elements of a Story…

Thinking about the CHARACTERS:




  1. How does Kenny’s life change in the book?




  1. Describe Byron’s transformation in Birmingham.



  1. When Kenny admits that he has treated Rufus badly, how does that help to correct the situation?



  1. What are some other important family relationships in The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963?



  1. How is your family similar to the Watsons? Different? How so?



  1. How does Christopher Paul Curtis let the reader know that Kenny is not all good and that Byron is not all bad?




  1. Did you find the Watson family and their relationships with one another to be realistic?


Thinking about the PLOT:




  1. Why do you think Christopher Paul Curtis chose to include the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, something that really happened, in a book that is mostly fictional?



  1. Do you think that there should have been more time spent on the bombing and its aftereffects? Were there other parts of the book that you felt were either too short or too long?




Thinking about the POINT OF VIEW:



  1. What point of view is the book written from? How does it impact the story?



Thinking about the CONFLICT:

  1. Identify and explain one example of each type of conflict listed below:

CHARACTER VS. CHARACTER

____________________VS. ____________________

Explanation –

CHARACTER VS. FATE/NATURE

____________________VS. ____________________

Explanation –

CHARACTER VS. SOCIETY

____________________VS. ____________________

Explanation -

CHARACTER VS. SELF

____________________VS. ____________________

Explanation -



Thinking about the SETTING:




  1. How are Birmingham and Flint different? How are they similar?




  1. How does a change in setting change the characters’ relationships to one another?




  1. Why might Momma have wanted to leave the South, despite the fact that she’d spent her whole life there?




Thinking about the THEME:




  1. Generate a theme statement for each universal theme/idea listed below.

GRIEF:

HUMOR:

FRIENDSHIP:

GROWING UP:


FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS:


RACISM, PREJUDICE, & DISCRIMINATION:




  1. What do you think is the most important theme of The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963?


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