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Christopher Paul Curtis (born in Flint, Michigan, May 10, 1953) is an American children's books author.
He is best known for the Newbery Medal-winning Bud, Not Buddy, and The Watsons go to Birmingham, 1963.
Many of his books are set in Flint, Michigan.
The latter was adapted for a television show of the same name that premiered on the Hallmark Channel in 2013.
Christopher Paul Curtis was born in Flint, Michigan, on May 10, 1953, his second child out of five children. When his patients were unable to pay, his father, Dr. Herman (Henry) Elmer Curtis, became a factory worker. Curtis' father was both a union activist and the first blacksmith at the Fisher Body Plant. Leslie Jane Curtis, Jane Curtis' mother, was a homemaker long before her children were older. Then she became an educator in the Flint Public School system. Curtis attributes his love of books and reading to his mother and acknowledges that his parents had a major influence on his life. They were instrumental in the Civil Rights Movement and attended several NAACP marches, including Curtis and his siblings. Curtis recalls pickingeting places in Flint with his parents that did not serve or hire black people in the early 1960s.
Curtis attended Dewey Elementary, Clark Elementary, Pierce Elementary, Pierce Elementary (in the Academically Gifted Program), Whittier Junior High School, and McKinley Junior High School of the Flint Public School System. He was the first African-American student to be elected to the student council in the school's 32-year history in 1967. Curtis' favourite books in middle school were Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird and James A. Michener's Toko-Ri. When growing up, Curtis loved reading Mad magazine, Sports Illustrated, Time magazine, and comic books. Curtis and his siblings were exposed to a wide variety of books, and his parents took them to the library every Saturday. Curtis, on the other hand, said that despite reading a lot, he found it difficult to relate to books and stories because they weren't by or about black people like himself.
In 1971, he graduated from Flint Southwestern High School. Curtis became a member of a Lansing-based theatrical/musical group Suitcase Theatre, which rehearsed on Tuesdays and Thursdays and showcased musical talent as well as Langston Hughes' own works. The group has appeared in the United States, Canada, and Europe.
Curtis planned to complete a political science degree at the University of Michigan-Flint after graduating high school. He took part in full-time for a year, but did not do well in his classes. During his poor attendance in school and the competitive pay being offered at Flint's GM Fisher Body Plant No. 2, he lost his career. Curtis began working full time at the plant on September 15, 1972. He continued attending night classes as a part-time student during this period. In 2000, he graduated from the University of Michigan–Flint. Curtis took a black literature course in college that introduced him to writers like Alice Walker, Zora Neale Hurston, and Toni Morrison. Not only did this course foster his love for literature, but it also inspired descriptions and descriptions in several of his books.
When attending a basketball game in Hamilton, Ontario, Curtis met his first wife, Kay Sookram. Sookram was born and raised in Trinidad but he moved to Ontario to study nursing. Curtis and Sookram sent letters to each other while dating. This was Sookram's first encounter with Curtis' writing. Curtis and her husband then migrated to Windsor, Ontario, to work with Kay because she was unable to obtain a work visa in the United States. They have two children together: Steven Darrell, 1978, and Cydney McKenzie, 1992.
In the late 2000s, Curtis and Sookram were split. Curtis married Habon Aden in 2010 and Ebyaan Hothan (2012), and they have two children together: Ayaan Leslie (2010) and Ebyaan Hothan (2012).
He likes playing basketball and listening to music in his free time, mainly jazz and blues. Both are viewed as a healthy way to relieve anxiety. He also likes reading, but only when he isn't writing because otherwise, his writing is influenced by the author's style. Curtis loves reading on the couch in the early morning, according to a Washington Post article.
Curtis spent 13 years on the assembly line of Flint's Fisher Body Plant No. 2 in high school. 1. Buicks were hung from fifty-to-eight pounds car doors for ten hours a day, according to his father. Both physically demanding and monotonous jobs were involved. Christopher and his partner at the Plant worked out a deal where one individual would hang every door for thirty minutes while the other would take a thirty-minute break. Curtis would block out the company's noise during his thirty-minute breaks and find solace and solace in reading and writing. Despite steady salaries and healthcare, Curtis recalls hating factory work and even having nightmares about hanging car doors.
He began working in 1985 and went into a variety of low-paying jobs after quitting Fisher Body. He served as a groundskeeper for the Flint team as a customer service representative for MichCon in Detroit, 1988, as a temporary employee for Manpower in Detroit, and as a warehouse clerk for Automated Data Processing in Allen Park, Michigan.
Curtis, who was convinced by Kaysandra (Kay) Sookram, his wife at the time, took a year off work to concentrate on his writing in 1993. Curtis took a writing course at the University of Michigan-Flint this year and entered several pieces into a Hopwood Awards competition. He received first place for both the book he submitted, The Watsons Go to Florida, and an essay about his time in the auto industry. Curtis submitted his novel to competitions sponsored by publishing houses, resulting in the novel being chosen by Delacorte Press for publication. Curtis intended the story to center around Dudley Randall's poem "The Ballad of Birmingham," but Curtis realized that Birmingham would be a more memorable destination for the Watsons and altered the ending accordingly. Curtis was also inspired by other literature and his personal experiences growing up in Flint in writing the book. Curtis, a West Georgia professor, and writer Peter E. Morgan, says he was inspired by Zora Neale Hurston's "They're Watching God" to characterize death from Kenny's perspective in The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963. Curtis discusses his decision not to reveal Kenny's connection to white people in the same interview, despite his editor's efforts to produce a book that also appealed to white audiences. Curtis grew up in a self-contained Black neighborhood and recalls his lack of day-to-day interactions with races outside of his own, so he assumed Kenny would have a similar experience in his book.
The Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963, was the novel's first book to be published in 1995. It was included on the American Library Association's list of the Best Books for Young Adults and received both the Newbery Honor Book Award and the Coretta Scott King Honor Book Award, as well as many other accolades and prizes. The Watsons have sold over three hundred thousand copies and have been translated into eleven different languages. After publication and then purchased by Whoopi Goldberg, the Watsons' film rights were sold to Lancit Media shortly after, and then purchased by Whoopi Goldberg. The book was based on a television show that aired on the Hallmark Channel in 2013.
In addition to other accolades, Curtis' second book, Bud, Not Buddy, was released in 1999. He based the tale on the life of his grandfather, who traveled around Michigan in the 1930s with his band Herman Curtis and the Dusky Devastators of The Depression.
Curtis goes to various colleges and organisations to share his writing experience as an author. He has also written essays and reviews for newspapers and magazines around the country. He wrote an introduction for a reissue of Uncle Tom's Cabin as well as an introduction.
Curtis also founded the Nobody but Curtis Foundation as a way to connect with young people and raise literacy rates in North America and Africa. He does this by delivering educational software, electronics, and other essentials to schools in need, as well as providing scholarships to students.
In an attempt to turn the words into a story, his writing process involves awakening at 5 a.m. and editing his papers from the previous day's journal. Following the editing, he returns to the library around 8 a.m. to write for the remainder of the morning. He spends his afternoons writing before returning to bed in the evenings.
In the Windsor Public Library's children's room, he would write when he first arrived in Windsor, Ontario. He said in a talk with Nancy Johnson and Cyndi Giorgis that he preferred writing here because the kids are so inspiring, and that librarians were especially helpful. In fact, even though the library wasn't officially open until ten a.m., the librarians encouraged Curtis to come in early to write. Curtis' writing was eventually moved to the University of Windsor Library as a result of budget cuts at the Windsor Public Library.
Curtis writes all of his stories in longhand and reveals himself to be an unstructured writer, preferring to follow his characters rather than plotting a specific plot. According to him, this method allows him to spend time with each of his characters and slow the writing process as a whole. Toni Morrison is one of his favourite writers due to her writing style and her ability to write about difficult subjects in an eloquent and professional way. Mark Twain is also known for his ability to create comedic comedy that has transcended generations. Curtis incorporates humor in all of his books, particularly as a way to handle the more difficult and difficult topics he often writes about. He also wants to foster intimacy and friendship with the reader by writing in the first person rather than in the third. Curtis did not intend to become a children's author and does not consider himself one; he simply wrote stories he hopes others would enjoy reading.
Curtis enjoys writing historical fiction because it gives him a sense of reality and encourages him to investigate important stories that have yet to be told or widely distributed to young readers. He hopes to inspire his readers to learn more about the historical events he depicted in his books by writing. In addition, several of Curtis' books are set in Flint, as he draws on his personal experiences growing up there.
(1) Write every day, (2) Have fun with your writing, (3) Be patient with your writing, and (4) Ignore all rules.