"The Watsons Go to Birmingham" by Christopher Paul Curtis, Chapters 8-11

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. admit
    declare to be true or accept the reality of
    When Byron walked by while we were working on it he said, “Y’all done real good. It still looks like a turd on wheels, but I gotta admit, now it looks like a polished turd.”
  2. insult
    treat, mention, or speak to rudely
    “Real cute, Wilona. Well, since Kenneth and Momma have insulted the Great Brown One, I guess that leaves it up to Rufus and Punkin to put the final piece on.”
  3. doubt
    uncertainty about the truth or existence of something
    "Well, I don't believe it! If you squint your eyes and look real hard, there’s no doubt about it, this boy’s got a real mustache going here!”
  4. seniority
    higher rank especially by reason of longer service
    “Well, just so there’re no problems, I’ve got seniority on you, so I get the bathroom first, deal?”
  5. weird
    strikingly odd or unusual
    I bet the neighbors wondered what the Weird Watsons were doing this time.
  6. unveil
    remove the cover from
    “Well, Kenneth, since you seem to be the only one with any curiosity, I guess you’ll be the one who gets to unveil the Bomber’s latest addition.”
  7. aside
    on or to one side
    I whipped the towel aside.
  8. sensitive
    able to feel or perceive
    Some of the time I think she forgot how sensitive Dad was.
  9. juvenile
    of or relating to children or young people
    “This isn’t our son, this is just a little juvenile delinquent boy that we feel sorry for and let follow us around some of the time. Our real son has hair!”
  10. suitable
    meant or adapted for an occasion or use
    “Yes, as I’m sure a nice family like this one is aware, it was only last year that the scientists at Autotronic Industries made a brilliant, beautiful, breathtaking breakthrough and developed a suitable system for controlling these vibrations.”
  11. enhance
    “Some people think we just have a hole hacked in back there by any old mechanic, but nothing could be further from the truth. That opening is scientifically and mathematically positioned by a factory-trained technician to enhance the TT AB-700’s true high-fidelity sound!”
  12. fuss
    care for like a mother
    She trailed Byron all the way to the car, fussing at him the whole way.
  13. purpose
    an anticipated outcome that guides your planned actions
    Dad reached over past Momma to start the car, but on the way his hand kind of accidentally on purpose brushed her chests.
  14. dedicate
    inscribe or address by way of compliment
    We at Flint’s only soul station, WAMM, dedicate this song to Daniel, from Wilona.
  15. remind
    put in the mind of someone
    “We’ve been telling you, Byron, you’ve been given warning after warning and chance after chance to straighten up, but instead of improving, you’re getting worse. Do I have to remind you of the things you’ve done just this last year?”
  16. threaten
    to utter intentions of injury or punishment against
    Momma and Dad had threatened to send Byron to Grandma Sands about a million times but we never thought it would happen.
  17. realize
    be fully aware or cognizant of
    Byron is getting old enough to have to understand that his time for playing is running out fast, he’s got to realize the world doesn’t have a lot of jokes waiting for him.
  18. determined
    devoting full strength and concentrated attention to
    “Momma and I are very worried because there’re so many things that can go wrong to a young person and Byron seems bound and determined to find every one of them."
  19. accustom
    familiarize psychologically or physically
    And you won’t believe this, but if you listen to any kind of music long enough, first you get accustomed to it and then you learn to like it.
  20. transfer
    move from one place to another
    I guess the grapevine had gotten back to Momma and Dad that By was going to make a prison break tonight before he got transferred to Alabama.
  21. offended
    hurt or upset
    “Ooh, Kenneth, I asked her the same thing and she was highly offended.”
  22. upset
    an unhappy and worried mental state
    Momma was upset because all of her notebook planning had been wasted.
  23. pathetic
    deserving or inciting pity
    You talk about some pathetic, tortured-looking little faces.
  24. puny
    of inferior size
    You was so puny when you was born you nearly worried us crazy.
  25. surrender
    a verbal act of admitting defeat
    The way Byron kept his head down and was smiling and saying “Yes, ma’am” this and “No, ma’am” that, it looked like he had surrendered before the first punch was thrown.

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