Since Bud’s mother died, he has been bounced around among orphanages and foster homes–none of which have been particularly good places to live. It seems like the only people willing to take in an orphan child during the Depression are either mean or crazy. But as long as Bud follows his “Rules and Things for Having a Funner Life and Making a Better Liar out of Yourself,” he never loses spirits. He also has his trusty suitcase with the flyer his mother gave him before she died advertising Herman E. Calloway’s Dusky Devastators of the Depression, a Grand Rapids jazz band.
Although his mother never said so, Bud is convinced that Herman E. Calloway is his father. After Bud escapes from a particularly nasty foster home, he decides the time has come to travel the 120 miles from Flint to Grand Rapids to find his father. When he actually meets Mr. Calloway, however, it isn’t quite the reunion Bud was expecting.
Bud, Not Buddy won both the 2000 Newbery Award and the 2000 Coretta Scott King Award for good reason. It is a phenomenal historical fiction novel that immerses readers in the worlds of jazz and the Great Depression. Bud is a wonderfully realistic character–determined, resilient, creative, and just a bit naive–with a great sense of humor that makes his story very funny, as well as touching. I highly recommend this book to middle grade readers who enjoy humor and/or historical fiction.