The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963
by Christopher Paul Curtis
The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 Chapter 15 Summary
The World-Famous Watson Pet Hospital
- The Watsons have been back in Flint for a couple of weeks, but Momma and Dad are still secretly talking about what happened at the church all the time.
- Kenny knows they still talk about it because he's been hiding behind the couch and they don't know he's there.
- Here's what Kenny finds out listening to Momma and Dad:
- The bomb wasn't dropped on the church. Two white men either hid it in the church or drove by and threw it in during the service.
- The bomb killed four little girls.
- A bunch of other people were blinded or hurt.
- Momma and Dad are most worried about Kenny and how this is affecting him. (They aren't worried about Joey because she didn't see the explosion, and they all agreed not to tell her what happened.)
- Momma thinks something's wrong because Kenny isn't talking much and he keeps disappearing for hours at a time. He never told anyone that he went in the church.
- Kenny's been hiding in the World-Famous Watson Pet Hospital, also known as the narrow space between the couch and the wall. Any time one of their dogs or cats gets sick or hurt, they crawl into this little space. Byron convinced Kenny and Joey that there's some kind of magic in the space and that the pets go there to see if the magic will make them better.
- Kenny hides behind the couch because he's waiting to see if the magic powers will work to make him feel better, too.
- Momma starts making Kenny do stuff with Rufus, but Kenny doesn't feel like playing with toys anymore, so he gives all his dinosaurs away.
- She also makes Kenny do stuff with Byron and Joey. Huh, we guess Byron didn't get left in Alabama for the summer.
- For some reason, Joey is really bugging Kenny these days. He says he never noticed what a crybaby and snitch she really is. Kenny even starts hating her. Sheesh, he hates Joey? What is going on with him?
- Kenny spends more and more time in the Pet Hospital and even starts sleeping there.
- Finally, Byron figures out where Kenny has been hiding.
- He says he won't tell, but Kenny starts to get the feeling that he told Momma and Dad. They stop talking about being worried and just start saying all sorts of nice things about Kenny. Yeah, sounds suspicious.
- Byron starts checking in on Kenny all the time and comes up with reasons for Kenny to come out and do stuff. He even sleeps on the couch to be close by. Hmm, Byron is being unusually nice these days.
- One morning, Byron drags Kenny into the bathroom to see his first chin hairs. Kenny decides to check out his own facial hair and looks in the mirror. When Kenny sees his face looking so sad, he starts to cry.
- Like big, uncontrollable tears.
- Byron sits down and holds Kenny's head in his lap. Very un-Byron.
- Kenny keeps crying and crying. He wonders why some white men would want to hurt kids at church. He says he thought Joey was dead. He confesses that he's ashamed of himself; that's what he's learned from all the time he spent in the Pet Hospital. He's ashamed because Byron saved him, but when Kenny thought the Wool Pooh had Joey, he just ran away instead of fighting for her.
- Byron says there's no such thing as a Wool Pooh or magic powers behind the couch. He explains that some part of Kenny must have led her away from the church; he should focus on that instead of feeling ashamed. Then he says it's time for Kenny to check out of the Watson Pet Hospital.
- Byron is turning into a pretty good big brother.
- Kenny thinks Byron is wrong about the Wool Pooh and also about magic not being real. But he thinks the magic might really be in the way your family loves you and forgives you and takes care of you—not behind the couch.
- Kenny finally starts to feel like he'll be okay. He washes his face because he's finally ready to get out of the house.
- Plus, you know, he has to figure out how to get some of his dinosaurs back from Rufus.
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