Christopher Paul Curtis

CPC photoChristopher Paul Curtis is no stranger to award committees. His first novel, The Watson’s Go To Birmingham–1963, was awarded the Newbery Honor and the Coretta Scott King Honor. His next novel, Bud, Not Buddy, was awarded the Newbery Award and the Coretta Scott King Author Award. And just this past January, his latest novel, Elijah of Buxton, was awarded a Newbery Honor and the Coretta Scott King Author Award.

Born in Flint, Michigan, Mr. Curtis now lives in Ontario, Canada with his wife and family. The Brown Bookshelf is honored to kick off our 28 Days Later Campaign with the wonderfully talented Christopher Paul Curtis!

The Genesis of Elijah of Buxton:

 elijahChristopher Paul Curtis had always wanted to write a novel about slavery. However, due to the inherent dehumanization of slaves, writing an accurate novel from the first person point of view of a slave would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible. However, on his way home from Windsor one day, Mr. Curtis noticed a sign for the Buxton Historical Museum. He stopped at the small museum, and was amazed by the amount of land that the ex-slaved had cleared and maintained in order to maintain the settlement. He imagined that a “first child” would have had to have been born at the settlement. And thus Elijah of Buxton was born.

By writing the novel from the point of view of a child that had never experienced slavery, Mr. Curtis was able to show the dichotomy between slavery and freedom. Elijah’s perspective as a free-born child could mimic current society’s views on slavery.

Favorite Novels and Characters:

Watson’sChristopher Paul Curtis used to say that The Watson’s Go to Birmingham–1963 was his favorite novel, because it got him out of the warehouse. But now, he’s calls Elijah of Buxton his favorite novel.  

However, Byron Watson, Kenny’s older brother from The Watson’s Go the Birmingham–1963, is Mr. Curtis’s favorite character. Byron is unpredictable, unreliable, and a borderline juvenile delinquent, but he’s also a lot of fun.


CPC’s 4 rules for aspiring authors (especially for young people just starting to write): 

 1) Write everyday—the more, the better.

2) Have fun when you write. You’re the creator of your own world when you write.  

3) Be very patient. Don’t give up, but don’t be afraid to put something to the side for a while. Sometimes the writing doesn’t go the way you want it to go at first.

4) Ignore all rules. Once you learn how to tell a story, don’t be afraid to break a few rules and try different things.

What’s next?

bud not buddy

For all of you Bud, Not Buddy fans, Christopher Paul Curtis has a treat for you. His next novel will be about Deza Malone, the girl with the little dimple in her brown cheek (and the girl that gave Bud Caldwell his first kiss), and should be available in 2009.

31 Responses to Christopher Paul Curtis

  1. Kelly says:

    Wonderful spotlight, Varian! Way to kick off the month!

  2. Carrie Jones says:

    It’s a brilliant way to kick off the month and such a happy way. I can’t wait for more about Deza.


  3. Becky says:

    I’m so excited to read about his next book. And it was great to read about his inspiration for Elijah of Buxton.

  4. Amy S. says:

    Bud, Not Buddy is my favorite CPC book to read out loud with students. I can’t wait for a book with more about Deza Malone. Reading the “kiss” scene is always a highlight of my year.

  5. cloudscome says:

    I just finished Elijah this weekend and I loved it. It was harder to read than Bud, of course, but I have to say it’s my favorite CPC book so far. Great way to kick off the month!

  6. troy.harkleroad says:

    troy is a fan of bud not buddy

  7. kweens says:

    I love Bud Not Buddy that is my favorite book and the first book I read when i was younger and known i am a teenager and i still read that book it never gets old!!!!!

  8. Becky D says:

    i thought your books were awesome they were so funny. I have to do this report at school and i chose you because i thought you books were hilarious so keep writing

  9. megan says:

    I am such a bud not buddy fan i just love that book!!!!

  10. Brianna says:

    In class im reading the Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963 for an assinment I LOVE it its hilarious Im in rhe middle of it soon im going to be finished but i have to buy the book
    keep on writing

  11. krisen g. says:

    i love them all every one!!!!

  12. Quentecia Jones says:


  13. pamela m says:

    christopher paul curtis is great writer and i wish him the best luck anything that he accomplishes. may god bless him and his family. they will always be in my prayers.

  14. pamela m says:

    helllo again i for got to mention more thing i really enjoyed the book buddy not, buddy. it is one of the best books i have ever read. keep it up!!!!! good- bye

  15. Maddie Howe says:

    hi i am in my reading group an we are about to read your book, The Watsons Go To Birmingham. i have never read one of your books before but im sure they are great.

  16. Miranda Post says:

    hi i am sitting right next to Maddie and I have read the Watsons go to Birmingham and I did like it, but i thought that Bud, Not Buddy was not as good. I love your hair its awesome!!!

  17. hank says:

    Hi it only your biggest fan i loved your book bud not buddy. I am in maddies reading group I am so excited to start. BYE

  18. khalile says:

    i love all your books../………………………

  19. […] in front of the committee is the only issue. For example, The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis was a Coretta Scott King Honor Book. It was his first novel. Uptown by Bryan Collier was his second […]

  20. jackson myth says:

    I hited all of his books

  21. Jadeifer says:


  22. traneceya says:


  23. Kim Jackson says:

    My summer enrichment program read Bud, Not Buddy from the required summer reading list. What an exciting experience to introduce to some of the students your work , and remind others The Watsons go to Birmingham. They have completed a storyboard of the book and are very excited about their presentations. Each student has written a personal note to you and would like to mail them, but we don’t have a mailing address. Please send an address so that i can put the letters in the mail. K. Jackson

  24. Mike Baker says:

    Elijah Of Buxton is awesome!

  25. DizzyMissLizzy says:

    I loved the book “The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963”. I love the 60s and this book just made me feel like i lived in the 60s.

  26. kierra says:

    happy early birth day your almost 60 your 59 i love your books expecilly watsons go to birmingham

  27. kierra says:

    i’m in 6 th grade were doing a play about bud not buddy and watson go to birmingham i would love it if chritopher paul cutis would come white house heritage elemetary

  28. leesh says:

    i love the book elijah

  29. joshua says:

    this information really helped me out on my project (so thank you for this information, it was very use full) ……………..Joshua Edenburn- Overton Elementary school- Sailsbury NC- 28144

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