Copyright 1995 Yearling
Audience: Middle school – Early High school students
Summary: This book is about a family, the Weird Watsons. This family includes a mother, father, two sons and a daughter. Kenny Watson, the younger brother, introduces us to his family, full of funny stories. Kenny is smart, sort of nerdy. Byron, his older brother, is a trouble maker, constantly getting in trouble, Joetta is their little sister and they all live with their parents. After all the things Byron gets himself into, the Weird Watson parents decide it is time for him to move down south with his grandmother in Birmingham, Alabama. The whole family takes a trip down south to a completely different life. Then, while visiting, they experience the Birmingham bombing at their local church. This event changed their lives forever.
Family relationships: All the Watsons are very different in character. But they all seem to work together to form the “Weird Watsons.” When they are in trouble, the family works together despite their differences. And when the family needs help, when Byron has pulled the last straw with his immediate family, they called on the extended family to help.
“It's no wonder the neighbors called us the Weird Watsons behind our backs. There we were, all five of us standing around a car with the temperature about a million degrees below zero and each and every one of us crying!” - Kenny
Mortality: Threw out the book, death and the idea of death happens multiple times. Kenny almost dies in the water. He explains how he is feeling in great detail. Then the bombing happens. Four little girls die and Kenny thinks his little sister is one of them. After the death, Kenny goes through some difficult times dealing with the idea of death.
“I tried to remember if I'd been mean to Joey this morning. I guessed I hadn't. I never did tell her how she helped Byron save my life in the water. I guessed I should have.” - Kenny
Reaction: I really enjoyed this book. Kenny tells the story of his family from his point of view. It is very humorous at first but later, after getting to Birmingham, the tone of the book changes. I noticed it when Kenny was drowning. The way he was describing the whirl pool and how it felt was written a lot different from the rest of the book. The descriptions about death or any other event were very creative, never actually telling you what exactly is being described. That aspect would be a great idea for projects or discussions on what exactly Kenny is trying to tell the audience. This is also a good way to open to the door to the history of the Civil Rights Movement. This book isn’t set up as a text or informational book. The author makes you feel emotion for the characters and the bombing has a bigger impact on the reader than if they were to just learn from a text book.