The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963
by Christopher Paul Curtis
The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 Chapter 3 Summary
The World's Greatest Dinosaur War Ever
- We learn the older of the two new kids is named Rufus Fry, and he's in Kenny's math class.
- The teacher assigns Rufus to sit next to Kenny which Kenny thinks is a bad idea; if they are near each other, they'll both get made fun of twice as much. Kenny wants Rufus to go away so he'll get made fun of all on his own. Oh Kenny, you're better than that.
- Rufus doesn't seem to notice that Kenny is ignoring him. He talks away all through class and follows Kenny to lunch. Rufus didn't bring anything to eat, so Kenny shares his lunch (that's more like it).
- We learn that the smaller new kid is Rufus's brother, Cody. They are from Arkansas where people apparently shoot and eat squirrels.
- Yup, squirrels. Kenny can't believe these kids have shot a real gun with real bullets, but they act like it's no big deal.
- Rufus gives Cody half of the sandwich Kenny gave him. Kenny thinks they both must have forgotten about lunch, but we think something else might be going on.
- So this becomes the routine: Rufus sits next to Kenny on the bus, then again in class, then follows Kenny to lunch and eats part of his sandwich and saves part for Cody.
- Rufus also starts coming over to Kenny's house to play dinosaur wars with Kenny's little plastic dinosaurs. Kenny likes playing with Rufus because he doesn't mind being the Nazi dinosaurs in the game (apparently it's World War II, dinosaur style). And bonus: he doesn't steal the dinosaurs.
- Flashback: Kenny used to play with this kid LJ, but LJ started stealing Kenny's dinosaurs a few at a time. Kenny didn't really mind at first, but then LJ tricked Kenny out of a bunch of his dinosaurs when they had "The World's Greatest Dinosaur War Ever."
- See, the Nazi dinosaurs and the American dinosaurs were killing each other with atomic bombs.
- Then LJ told Kenny that the "radioactiveness" from the dead dinosaurs was killing the live ones, so they had to bury them. Now, Kenny figured that LJ was trying to trick him, so he watched real close while they buried the dinosaurs.
- By the end of the war, they'd buried three big piles of dinosaurs in graves marked with giant rocks.
- Then, LJ told Kenny he'd show him where Larry Dunn's secret fort was. Kenny knew that was probably the trick, but he wanted to go anyway, so they cleaned up the dinosaurs and headed to the fort.
- Kenny didn't realize until later that night that they never dug up the radioactive dinosaurs. He went outside to check, and sure enough, the graves were empty and Kenny was down about half of his dinosaurs. Bummer.
- Needless to say, he didn't really play with LJ much after that.
- So, back to Rufus. It turns out he's a much better dinosaur buddy than LJ, and it seems like Rufus and Kenny are becoming friends after all.
- Kenny tells us that he was wrong about both he and Rufus getting teased twice as much; instead the other kids just pick on Rufus.
Why? Two main reasons. One: Rufus talks funny. Well, he talks with a southern accent, which sounds funny to all these Michigan kids. Two: Rufus only has two shirts and two pairs of pants that he switches between. Not up to the high fashion standards of Clark Elementary, apparently.
- One day on the bus, Larry Dunn says something really mean about Rufus's clothes and everyone laughs, including Kenny. Ouch.
- After that, Rufus stops hanging out with Kenny. Can you blame him?
- A few days later, Kenny takes his dinosaurs to Rufus's house and asks him to play. Rufus says he thought Kenny was different from everyone else, and they can't be friends anymore after Kenny laughed at him. Double ouch.
- Naturally, Kenny feels terrible. And embarrassed. And he gets really, really sad without Rufus.
- Momma senses something is wrong (moms always know) and asks Kenny about Rufus. Kenny just bawls and tells Momma how he hurt Rufus's feelings.
- The next day, Momma is waiting for Rufus at his bus stop and she walks him home. Hmm, what's she up to?
- Later that night, Rufus shows up to play dinosaurs. Kenny apologizes and tells Rufus that he is different, and Rufus forgives him. That's the Kenny we know and love.
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