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The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963

The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963


by Christopher Paul Curtis

Analysis: What's Up With the Title?

The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 is a Momma original; it's what she titles the little notebook where she plans every minute and dime of their trip.

It might seem like an odd title; after all, the Watsons don't actually go to Birmingham until more than halfway through the book. But then again, the first half of the book is important for us to understand why they go to Birmingham. So in a way, the entire book is about the trip. It's about everything that led to the Watsons being in Birmingham on the day the church was bombed.

And that leads us to why there's a date in the title. Is it just us, or does that seem a little clunky to you? Why not just title it The Watsons Go to Birmingham? Well, the year is a clue for the reader. The bombing of the church in the book is based on the real bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham in 1963 where four little girls really did die. The church bombing is a well-known historical event, so a reader who is familiar with it will know from the beginning that the story is going to somehow end up linked to this tragedy.

Sure, it's a spoiler alert, but it makes us want to keep reading to find out how the Watsons' story gets caught up in the history of this era.

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