"The Watsons Go to Birmingham" by Christopher Paul Curtis, Chapters 4-7

When the Watson family pays Grandma a visit in Alabama, they find themselves caught up in the battle for civil rights.

Here are links to our lists for the novel: Chapters 1-3, Chapters 4-7, Chapters 8-11, Chapters 12-Epilogue

Here are links to our lists for other books by Christopher Paul Curtis: Bud,
Not Buddy
, Elijah of Buxton

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. gigantic
    so exceedingly large or extensive as to suggest a giant
    T-shirts, a couple of sweaters, a couple of jackets and a couple of coats, plus gigantic snow pants that hung on your shoulders by suspenders, plus socks and big, black, shiny rubber boots that closed with five metal buckles.
  2. barely
    in a sparse or scanty way
    We wore so many clothes that when we pulled our final coat on we could barely bend our arms.
  3. tease
    mock or make fun of playfully
    I know it’s kind of stupid to think that someone who’s teasing you by going around in circles is going to help you out but I said anyway, “How?”
  4. orbit
    move in a path described by a body revolving around another
    I bet we looked like the solar system, with me being the sun and Byron being the orbiting Earth.
  5. notice
    discover or determine the existence, presence, or fact of
    Byron looked around to make sure no one was listening, then said, “Have you ever noticed early in the morning some of the time you wake up and hear garbage trucks?”
  6. grind
    press with a crushing noise
    Ever since Larry got these new leather gloves he was giving Super Maytag Washes because he could grind a whole lot more snow in your face for a whole lot longer since his hands weren’t getting as cold.
  7. prove
    establish the validity of something
    But you couldn’t prove it, and besides, my old gloves were brown and Larry’s new ones were black.
  8. embarrassing
    causing to feel shame or chagrin or vexation
    Rufus knew this was some real embarrassing stuff so he sat down beside me, looked the other way and acted like he didn’t see me crying.
  9. pretend
    represent fictitiously, as in a play, or act like
    By was pretending he was making a movie called Nazi Parachutes Attack America and Get Shot Down over the Flint River by Captain Byron Watson and His Flamethrower of Death.
  10. deserve
    be worthy
    “Such a brave soldier deserves our respect,” he said, “so we give him a burial at sea.”
  11. accent
    distinctive manner of oral expression
    We all could tell Momma was super-mad ’cause she started talking in that real Southem-style accent.
  12. lap
    the upper side of the thighs of a seated person
    Momma finally set all the burning equipment down and sat on the coffee table and pulled Joey into her lap.
  13. peon
    a laborer who is obliged to do menial work
    “I can’t believe it. You really gonna start serving wel­fare food in this house? You really gonna make me go embarrass myself by signing a welfare list for some groceries like a blanged peon?”
  14. disgust
    strong feelings of dislike
    But to try to get Byron back into his good mood, I acted real disgusted and said, “Awww, man."
  15. generous
    willing to give and share unstintingly
    Then I noticed a crumpled-up Swedish Cremes bag on the ground next to the tree and I could figure out why he was being so generous.
  16. mourning
    state of sorrow over the death or departure of a loved one
    By jumped up and said, “That’s a mourning dove, they’re the coolest birds in the world, don’t nothing shake them up!”
  17. mercy
    leniency and compassion shown toward offenders
    “Well,” Momma said, “that’s it, you are now at your daddy’s mercy."
  18. ban
    prohibit especially by law or social pressure
    “Please make this a short visit, ma’am, the priest will be here any minute to give the prisoner his last meal and his last cigarette. Oops! I forgot, no cigarettes for you, Five Forty-one, you’ve been banned from ever looking at matches, remember?”
  19. confess
    admit to a wrongdoing
    "He won’t confess his guilt.”
  20. behave
    act well or properly
    “Byron, why won’t you behave?"
  21. depend
    be contingent upon
    “Hmmm, well, I guess that depends on your point of view.”
  22. tolerate
    put up with something or somebody unpleasant
    He must have really felt like he didn’t have anything to lose, ’cause Momma and Dad just didn’t tolerate mumbling.
  23. deny
    refuse to recognize or acknowledge
    “And, Mrs. Watson,” Dad said, “you can’t possibly deny this is your child."
  24. execute
    kill as a means of socially sanctioned punishment
    Joey laughed because she was relieved Byron hadn’t been executed, Momma and Dad laughed at Byron’s ears, but none of them laughed as hard as me.
  25. fortune
    a large amount of wealth or prosperity
    Me and Joey crowded up next to them on the couch and heard Grandma Sands yell, “This is costing y’all a fortune, Daniel, let me talk to my baby again.”

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