The Watsons Go To Birmingham Christopher Paul Curtis
THE WATSONS GO TO BIRMINGHAM - 1963 CHRISTOPHER PAUL CURTIS Reading Guide CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION SETTING AND CHARACTER Sketch/note details about the setting (time and place of the story) AND Sketch/note details about the main character, Kenny.
Be sure to include details about his A ppearance P ersonality E motions Note how the author uses thoughts and dialogue to CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION SETTING AND CHARACTER EXAMPLE CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION - CONFLICT Identify the main
conflict of the story and the events that lead to the conflict Sketch/note them here CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION CONFLICT CHAPTERS 2-3 Label the top bar with an episode title based on the plot events that occurred in this section of the novel Number the plot events that occurred in this section of the text.
Note do, say, think, describe, and feeling details for each event. If the author introduced an important character, sketch/note the details the author provided to make the character come alive CHAPTERS 2-3 EXAMPLE CHAPTERS 1-3 TEXT DEPENDENT QUESTIONS What impact does the figurative description in the first three paragraphs have on your understanding of the setting of the story?
Reread the following excerpt: If, instead of trying to intimidate your young brother, you would emulate him and use that mind of yours, perhaps youd find things much easier. (p.24) What is the meaning of emulate? How does the context of the word emulate help you determine its meaning? Which lines of dialogue in the first chapter reveal CHAPTERS 1-3 TEXT DEPENDENT QUESTIONS What inference about Kenny is supported by the following excerpt from the text?
I could have done a lot of stuff to him. If it had been me with my lips stuck on something like this he'd have tortured me for a couple of days before he got help. Not me, though, I nearly broke my neck trying to get into the house to rescue Byron. (p.13) In chapter 2, Kenny recalls being taken to different classrooms to read and then recalls Byrons advice about his lazy eye. Why are these incidents important for the development of the plot? What inference is supported by the following excerpt from the text? "I've often told you that as Negroes the world is many times a hostile place for us." I saw Mr. Alums walking CHAPTERS 1-3
TEXT DEPENDENT QUESTIONS Reread the excerpt from the text: Every other time someone was late hed just laugh at them and tell the rest of us, "This is the only way you little punks is gonna learn to be punctual. I hope that fool has a pleasant walk to school. (p.28) What is the meaning of punctual? How does the context of the word punctual help you determine its meaning? Why does Kenny refer to the new kid on the bus as his personal savior? In the middle of chapter 3, Kenny interrupts the narration about Rufus and Cody to tell the story of the worlds greatest dinosaur war. Why is this
incident important for the development of the plot? CHAPTERS 1-3 TEXT DEPENDENT QUESTIONS Reread the following excerpt: Rufus might as well have tied me to a tree and said, "Ready, aim, fire!" I felt like someone had pulled all my teeth out with a pair of rusty pliers. (p. 45) What impact does this figurative description of have on your understanding of Kennys feelings? Reread the following excerpt: [...] all of a sudden I remembered that Rufus and Cody were the only two kids in the whole school (other than Byron and Joey) that I didn't automatically look at
sideways. (p. 45) What can you infer about how Kenny feels about Rufus and Cody from this statement? CHAPTERS 4-7 Label the top bar with an episode title based on the plot events that occurred in this section of the novel Number the plot events that occurred in this section of the text. Note do, say, think, describe, and feeling details for each event. If the author introduced an important character, sketch/note
the details the author provided to make the character come alive CHAPTERS 4-7 EXAMPLE CHAPTERS 4-7 TEXT DEPENDENT QUESTIONS Reread the following line of dialogue: Youd have to be pretty tough to stand around giving people Maytags on a day as cold as this with those skimpy clothes on! (p. 61) What is the meaning of skimpy? How does the context of the word skimpy help you determine its meaning?
What inference can you make about Larry Dunn based on this and other details in the text? Reread the following excerpt: I hated watching this. Byron was the only person in the world who could make you feel sorry for someone as mean as Larry Dunn.  I wished I hadnt told Byron about what happened, I wished I just could have gone the rest of the year with one glove. I couldnt stand to see how the movie was going to end, so me and Rufus left. (p.62) What do these lines reveal about Kenny? Why does he feel sorry for a bully like Larry Dunn? CHAPTERS 4-7 TEXT DEPENDENT QUESTIONS Which lines from Kennys narration reveal
why he thinks Mommas punishment of Byron after the Flamethrower of Death incident was fair? Reread the following excerpt: I cant believe it. You really gonna start serving welfare food in this house? You really gonna make me go embarrass myself by signing a welfare list for some groceries like a blanged peon? (p. 76) What does the word peon mean? How does Byrons covnersation with Kenny help you understand the word? CHAPTERS 4-7 TEXT DEPENDENT QUESTIONS
Reread the following excerpts: The bird's head drooped backward and was rolling from side to side. Dead as a donut. [...] I looked right at By and his face was all twisted up and his eyes were kind of shut. He dropped the bird, walked over to the green-apple tree and started throwing up. (p. 83) Leave it to Daddy Cool to kill a bird, then give it a funeral. Leave it to Daddy Cool to torture human kids at school all day long and never have his conscience bother him but to feel sorry for a stupid little grayish brown bird. (p. 85) Why is this incident important to the development of the plot?
CHAPTERS 4-7 TEXT DEPENDENT QUESTIONS In Chapter 5, Byron is caught playing with matches, but it isnt until Chapter 7 when Byron changes his hair style that Momma and Dad become fed up with his behavior. Why is this incident so important to them? Kenny says, Joey was too young to understand that Byron didnt care about anything but himself. What events from the plot so far seem to confirm or contradict this statement? CHAPTERS 8-10
Label the top bar with an episode title based on the plot events that occurred in this section of the novel Number the plot events that occurred in this section of the text. Note do, say, think, describe, and feeling details for each event. If the author introduced an important character, sketch/note the details the author provided to make the character come alive CHAPTERS 8-10 TEXT DEPENDENT QUESTIONS Explain why Mr. and Mrs. Watson think that Byron will
benefit from living with Grandma Sands. Reread the following excerpt: I can see youre wondering what that is. Well, let me explain. What we have here is, believe it or not, a second speaker! And I can tell by that intelligent look on your face, Mrs.Watson, that you have grasped that that speaker is not placed in the rear deck haphazardly, no, maam. Some people think we just have a hole hacked in back there by any old mechanic, but nothing could be further from the truth. That opening is scientifically and mathematically positioned by a factory-trained technician to enhance the TT AB-700s true high-fidelity sound! (p.112) What does the term haphazardly mean? How does the context of the word help you determine its meaning?
CHAPTERS 8-10 TEXT DEPENDENT QUESTIONS Reread the following excerpt: Well, a lot of times thats going to be the way of the world for you kids. Byron is getting old enough to have to understand that his time for playing is running out fast, hes got to realize the world doesnt have a lot of jokes waiting for him. Hes got to be ready. Dad looked at me again to make sure I was understanding. I nodded. Grandma Sands says its quiet down where they are, but we think its time Byron got an idea of the kind of place the world can be, and maybe spending some time down South will help open his eyes. (p. 123)
What do these lines of dialogue reveal about what Dads goal is in taking Byron to the south? CHAPTERS 8-10 TEXT DEPENDENT QUESTIONS Why is Joey upset by the angel that Mrs. Davidson gives to her? Reread the following excerpt: I thought about it for a minute, then asked, "Momma, how come we dont just drive until Dad gets tired, then stop? Dad did an imitation of a hillbilly accent.Cuz, boy, this he-uh is the deep South you-all is gonna be drivin thoo. Yall colored folks caint be jes pullin up tuh any olway-uh an be spectin tuh get no room uh no food, yuh heah, boy? I said yuh heah what Im sayin, boy?
Me and Joey laughed again, and even Byron kind of smiled. This only encouraged Dad to say some more Southern-style stuff. Yall didnt know that, boy? Whas a mattah wit choo, you thank this he-uh is Uhmurica? (p. 132) What can you infer about the south in 1963 based on Dads answer? CHAPTERS 8-10 TEXT DEPENDENT QUESTIONS Rerea d t h e fo llo w i ng excer pt from pa g e 97 Dad stuck his hand out of the window just as the song came on and said, Feel that coolness. It feels like youre running your fingers through silk. Me, Momma, Joey and even Daddy Cool all did what Dad told us to do, and Dad was right, it felt great.
Wiggle your fingers in it, Dad said. We all did, and the air seemed slippery and cool as it blew on your hand. Were so high and the air is so perfect that do you know what I think were doing? Dad asked. What? I think weve got our fingers in Gods beard and as we drive along were tickling him. Byron acted like he was going to throw up. As we drove down the mountain with our arms sticking out of the windows and our fingers wiggling in the breeze, I thought the Brown Bomber must look like a bug lying on its back with four skinny brown legs kicking and twitching to try to put it back on its feet. (p. 147) W h at im p ac t do es t h e figu ra t i ve des cri pt i on o f t h e set t in g ha ve o n t he t on e o f t h e st or y?
CHAPTERS 11-13 Label the top bar with an episode title based on the plot events that occurred in this section of the novel Number the plot events that occurred in this section of the text. Note do, say, think, describe, and feeling details for each event. If the author introduced an important character, sketch/note the details the author provided to make the character come alive CHAPTERS 11-13
TEXT DEPENDENT QUESTIONS Rer ead the following excerpt: Dad came up on the porch and got a ton of hugs and tears too, then Grandma Sands pulled everybody together. Her little arms could only get around one person at a time but as the Weird Watsons stood there with some of us laughing, some of us crying and some of us looking cool it felt like we all were wrapped up in a big ball. (p. 159) What effect does the figur ative descri ption have on the tone of the story? Rer ead the following excerpt: Well, there aint too many animals wilier or tougher than a old coon. Most people think you just chase em up a tree and pop em, but that aint half the story. Toddyd trailed this coon all the way out to this lake, and the coon
went in the water. Now most of the time a dogll stop right at the water, they know better than to go in, but Toddy mustve just dove right in after that coon. He musta been a half mile ahead of me when I heard him holler and then get real quiet. What happened? The coon got him in the water and held his head under till he drowneded him.(p. 163-164) CHAPTERS 11-13 TEXT DEPENDENT QUESTIONS What lines of dialogue and narration reveal that Byrons behavior has changed since his arrival in Birmingham? What effect do the following lines have on the reader?
It also seems like the worse the trouble is that you get into, the more steps it takes to get there. Sort of like you're getting a bunch of little warnings on the way; sort of like if you really wanted to you could turn around. (p.173) CHAPTERS 11-13 TEXT DEPENDENT QUESTIONS Reread the following excerpt: That's when he came swimming real slow out of the deep, and even though my head was underneath the dark water I could see him coming right at me. He didn't look like he was related to Winnie-the-Pooh at all, he was big and gray with hard square-looking fingers. Where he should have had a face there was nothing but
dark gray. Where he should have had eyes there was nothing but a darker colder-looking color. He grabbed my leg and started pulling me down. (p. 176) What effect does the description have on the tone? What inference about Byron is supported by the following lines? Byron was shaking like he was getting electrocuted and crying like a baby and kissing the top of my head over and over! (p. 179) CHAPTERS 14-15 Label the top bar with an episode title based on the plot events that occurred in this section of the novel
Number the plot events that occurred in this section of the text. Note do, say, think, describe, and feeling details for each event. If the author introduced an important character, sketch/note the details the author provided to make the character come alive CHAPTER 14-15 TEXT DEPENDENT QUESTIONS Reread the following excerpt: I felt it more than heard it. The giant old magnolia tree shook one time like something had given it a hard snatch by the roots. Then there was a sound like a faroff thunderstorm coming. Except it only thundered one
long time. It seemed like every animal and bird and bug in Birmingham stopped making noise for about two seconds. It seemed like everything that was alive stopped whatever it was doing and was wondering the same thing: What was that noise? (p. 182) What impact does the figurative description of the noise have on the tone of the story? CHAPTER 14-15 TEXT DEPENDENT QUESTIONS Since the story is written from the Kennys perspective, the details about the bombing are
conveyed to the reader as he perceives them in his delirium and not as they really are. For example, on page 184, he says, He had on the same thing Dad did, a T-shirt and pajama pants, but it looked like hed been painting with red, red paint. The reader has to infer that the paint that Kenny sees on the mans shirt is actually blood. Reread Chapter 14 to examine other ways in which Kenny describes his perception of the bombing. What impact do these figurative description have on the tone of the story? CHAPTER 14-15
TEXT DEPENDENT QUESTIONS What inference is supported by the following excerpt from the text? Momma started trying to force me to do more things with Rufus but it seemed like he'd changed while we were gone and wasn't as much fun to be with. Him and Cody got real happy when I gave them my pillowcaseful of dinosaurs. I was getting too mature to play with toys anymore. (p. 195) Which lines of dialogue from Byrons talk with Kenny in the bathroom reveal that he has got an idea of the kind of place the world can be? Kenny still believes that the Wool Pooh is real even though Byron tells him that he made it up. What
does the Wool Pooh represent figuratively? CHAPTER 14-15 TEXT DEPENDENT QUESTIONS Reread this excerpt from the text: "If you been spending so much time thinking about how you didn't save Joey why don't you stop and think about why she wasn't in that church, why don't you spend some time thinking about who it was that led her away?" (p. 201) Why is this line of dialogue important to the development of the plot? Kenny goes behind the couch to let the magic
powers, genies, and angels heal him the way they sometimes healed the family pets. What does Kenny finally conclude are the real magic powers that can heal him? CHAPTER 14-15 TEXT DEPENDENT QUESTIONS The story closes with the following lines: I had to think of a way to get at least half of my dinosaurs back from Rufus. Come on in, Joey. (p. 206) What inference about Kenny is supported by this excerpt from the text? How do the small acts of violence and
bullying relate to the bombing at the end of the story? CLOSING What do the main characters learn/understand at the closing of the story? What is the central message or theme of the story? COMPARE/CONTRAST NOVEL MOVIE Use the chart provided to note the ways that the movie
producers stayed true to the story and the elements that they changed. Faithful elements to the Departures from the novel novel Evaluate the decisions the producers made. Write a brief explanation to support your evaluation. Be sure to include evidence from your notes.
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