Bud, Not Buddy


Readability Age Range



Year Published

Book Review

This review was created by the editorial staff at Thriving Family magazine

This historical fiction book by Christopher Paul Curtis is published by Yearling Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books and is written for kids ages 9 and up. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.

Plot Summary

Ten-year-old Bud Caldwell is tired of living in an orphanage and going to bad foster homes. He searches for his father, but the only clues he has are some rocks with mysterious writing on them, a childhood photo of his mother and flyers about Herman E. Calloway and his band. Bud is convinced that Herman E. Calloway is his dad. When he finds Calloway, the man is not what he expected. Still, his search brings closure to his mother’s death and offers him a real home.

Christian Beliefs

God is mentioned a few times as if faith were a natural part of everyday life.

Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

Bud’s foster parents are cruel, and his grandfather is too strict. Librarians are portrayed as supportive friends, and Bud’s memories paint his mother as a loving parent. Some policemen are kind, while others threaten people and tear apart their shantytown with no compassion for the homeless.

Profanity & Violence

Jesus’ name is used in vain. Bud imagines shooting the foster family after the son beats him and the parents lock him in a shed after threatening him.

Sexual Content

Bud and a girl his age share one kiss and hold hands.

Discussion Topics

If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:

  • An adult’s versus a child’s worldview
  • Personal identity
  • Racial prejudice
  • Homelessness
  • Foster care
  • The importance of family and parenting

Additional Comments

Book reviews cover the content, themes and world-views of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book’s inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

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