The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963
by Christopher Paul Curtis
Kenny Watson Timeline and Summary
- We meet Kenny on a cold Michigan night when Byron's lips get frozen to the mirror of the car and the whole family gets involved in trying to free him.
- Kenny becomes friends with Rufus, the new kid at school.
- Larry Dunn makes fun of Rufus for only having one pair of jeans that he shares with his brother, and Kenny laughs at the joke along with everyone else on the bus. Rufus stops hanging out with Kenny for a while, but eventually Momma helps Kenny apologize and Rufus forgives him.
- Kenny tells us all about Byron nearly getting burned for playing with matches, killing the bird and then crying about it, and coming home with his hair chemically straightened. He's pretty confused about what's going on with Byron, but he doesn't seem to mind watching Byron get into trouble. Ah, brothers.
- Momma and Dad announce that they will be taking a family trip to Birmingham to drop Byron off for the summer with Grandma Sands. Kenny is thrilled, clearly.
- In Birmingham, the Watson kids go swimming in the lake, but Grandma Sands reminds them to stay away from Collier's Landing where there's a dangerous whirl pool. Kenny ignores this and nearly drowns in the whirl pool. Luckily, Byron is there to save him.
- A few days later, Joey goes to church with the neighbors, and while she's gone, a bomb goes off in the church. The whole family heads down to look for her.
- Kenny goes into the church and he sees that two little girls have died. Then he finds a shoe that looks just like Joey's under a pile of concrete. He's scared that she has died too, so he runs back home.
- At the house, Joey shows up, but Kenny assumes it's just her ghost coming to say goodbye. When he finally realizes she's really alive, he runs to tell the rest of the family. They go back to Flint that night.
- Kenny is really sad about what he saw in the church. He starts hiding behind the couch and doesn't want to talk to anyone.
- One day, Byron gets Kenny to come out to see his first chin hair in the bathroom and Kenny finally breaks down and cries. Byron talks to Kenny and helps him feel better, and Kenny finally decides he doesn't need to hide behind the couch anymore.
- Our boy is back.