Book Discussion Series: Bud, Not Buddy

***JUST SO YOU KNOW*** All of the posts in our book discussion series contain questions and reviews that could possibly reveal parts of the plot you may rather discover by reading the book.  Proceed with caution!***

The Book Discussion Series enhances the reading experience by providing a list of interpretive questions compiled by librarians of the Cleveland Heights Univeristy Heights Public Library

Ten-year-old Bud, a motherless boy living in Flint, Michigan, during the Great Depression, escapes a bad foster home and sets out in search of the man he believes to be his father — the renowned bandleader, H.E. Calloway of Grand Rapids.

Discussion Questions:

    • How would you describe Bud? What character traits does he have? How do you learn about him throughout the book?
    • What role does humor play in the book? How would the book have been different without the funny parts? How does reading something funny affect you? Find some funny parts from the book and share them with the group.
    • What do you think about Bud’s rules for life? What does he call them and why? Why do you think these are his goals for life? Why do you think he numbers them? Let’s take a look at some of the rules. Which ones do you agree with and which ones do you disagree with and why? Which rules are most helpful to Bud during the book and why? Do you think that Bud will continue to use his rules now that he has a family and does not need to survive on his own? Do you have any rules for life? What are they? How do they differ from Bud’s?
    • How does Bud’s narration affect the telling of this story? Does Bud’s language make the book easier or more difficult to read? One example is Bud using the term “human bean” instead of “human being.” Can you find other examples of this? How do books written in first person differ from those written in third person?
    • Do you think the story was more interesting because Bud was an orphan? How would the book have been different if he had not been?
    • Do you think that Bud is a typical 10-year old? Why or why not?
    • Why does Bud think that being an adult starts at age 6? (p.4+)
    • Why do you think Bud’s eyes don’t cry anymore? What makes him start crying again? (p.172+)
    • Bud says that he doesn’t make a mistake more than 7 or 8 times. Do you think that shows that Bud learns from his mistakes? What sorts of mistakes does Bud make? Are they the same sorts of mistakes that you make?
    • What makes Bud so self-conscious about his name? What is special about it? Why do you think people want to call him Buddy? Why is this so important that the author chose it as the title of the book? (p. 41-42)
    • Bud’s mother once told him “when one door closes, don’t worry, because another door opens.” How does Bud initially interpret this statement (not the way that his mother means)? What does his mother mean by it? How does belief in this statement give Bud the hope he needs to continue his search for his father? Can you think of some points in the story where one door closes and another opens?
    • Throughout the book nice people help Bud. Who are some of these people, what do they do to help him, and why do you think they help him?
    • Why is being a good liar important to Bud? Do you think that lying is a good skill to have? Why or why not?
    • What genre would you consider this book to be? How would you define historical fiction? Do you like reading historical fiction? Why or why not? How is Bud, Not Buddy historical fiction? How does the time period affect the story? How would the story be different had it been set in a different time period?
    • What do you think about the Amos family? What impression did they have on Bud? Why do you think they were included in the book?
    • What does Bud mean (on p. 17) when he’s being like Brer Rabbit? Have you ever used this trick?
    • Who is Bugs? How did Bugs get his nickname? Why do you think he’s so important to Bud? What makes the two alike and why?
    • Talk about the significance of Bud’s experiences at Hooverville. What were Bud’s impressions of it? What did Bud remember most about it and why?
    • Who is Deza Malone? Why is she important to Bud? What does Bud remember most about her and their “romantic” night together?
    • How do you think Bud felt when he missed the train? Do you think it was a good thing that he missed it?
    • Why do you think Bud is so afraid of vampires? What are some of the drastic measures he takes to avoid them?
    • How does Bud feel about his mother? Why didn’t she ever tell him about his grandfather? Why do you think Bud’s mother left home and changed her name? If Bud’s mother was so unhappy, why did she keep the flyers about her dad’s band?
    • Why is Bud convinced that Herman E. Calloway is his father? How does Bud feel about Herman E. Calloway the first time he meets him? How do his feelings change and why? Is Bud disappointed to learn that he isn’t his father?
    • Who’s Bud’s favorite band member and why?
    • Which adult character in this book would be the best parent figure for Bud and why?
    • What does Miss Thomas mean when she says that Bud was a godsend to the band? (p. 191) Do you agree with her?
    • How is the band like a family? How does Bud fit into this new family?
    • Think about all the different families you see in this book. How would you describe them? Which family is the “best” and which is the “worst”? What makes a family “good” or “bad”? What does Deza mean when she says that a person without a family is like dust in the wind? Do you agree with this?
    • Do you think Bud will make a good band member? Do you think that with the band Bud has found a place where he truly belongs?
    • Why does Herman E. Calloway (Mr. C.) always have a “white fella” in his band? What do you think about this reasoning?
    • At what points in the book does Bud encounter racism? How does that racism affect Bud and the other characters?
    • This book won both the Newberry Medal and the Coretta Scott King Award. Why do you think it was chosen for these two awards?
    • Christopher Paul Curtis encourages us to listen to our families’ histories. Have you spent any time talking with your grandparents or other older family members about their pasts?