Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Mr. Chickee's Funny Money is book by CPC written to captivate a younger audience. This particular piece of literature is composed with a tremendous level of imagination to engage as well as inspire young readers. While this book proved to be an easy read, as an adult reader, I felt severely disconnected to the main theme and characters. It was not until I deliberately and consciously burgeon my mind, and read from a child's perspective, that I felt a connection with the characters in this book. Steven is a curious, intelligent little boy who is the main persona in this fictional story. Every Saturday morning Steven accompanies Mr. Chickee, his blind, elderly neighbor to the grocery store to assist him with his shopping. Usually Steven is rewarded with Vernor's Ginger ale and a bag of potato chips, but one day he receives an envelope that contains a most unusual piece of currency --- a quadrillion-dollar bill with a picture of the singer James Brown on it. So the main theme revolves around Steven trying to verify the legitimacy of this quadrillion-dollar bill. Mr. Chickee instructs Steven not tell anyone about the contents of the envelope. Steven, seeks the help of his buddy Russell, and Zoopy (Russell's huge, bear-like dog) who, along with Steven are the only members of Flint's Future Detectives. Steven and Russell are determined to find out if the bill is real. Steven's dad thinks the money is an advertising gimmick, but Steven's mother wants a second opinion, which is how Steven gets entangled with Agent Fondoo from the U.S. Treasury Department.

This piece of literature contains several real life themes that are important for young readers to learn about. Through a vivid and creative imagination children will be exposed to the importance of trust, accountability and reliability when building healthy relationships. Also, Steven is challenged to deal with emotional loss when personal relationships are no longer in existence in his life.


Now that I have provided a synopsis of both "BUD, NOT BUDDY"and "MR. CHICKEE'S FUNNY MONEY", lets explore their differences and similarities.

The main characters in both these books are young African American boys. Steven and Bud both are around 10 years old, residing in Flint, Michigan. Although they experienced childhood life about 40 years apart, both of these boys display curious tendencies along with adventures spirits. Here is where their similarities end.Steven comes from a very supportive family environment. He lives a comfortable middle class life surrounded by parents who provide safety, to go along with much needed attention that Steven requires. Bud, on the other hand, has absolutely no biological family the speak of. His mother has passed away and he does not know who his father is. So, unlike Steven, he can't rely on anyone to provide the essential emotional support a 10 year old child needs. Bud is moved from orphanage to foster homes experiencing both physical and mental abuse. This is an excellent example of the immense creativity that CPC illustrates in his literature work. By creating characters that depict such opposite characteristics, but also several similarities CPC demonstrates is creative versatility.

As hungry readers, consuming the text in these particular books, I can assure you that all appetites will be satisfied although in different forms. By this, I mean that the language CPC choose to use in "Bud, Not Buddy" is significantly different than that of "Mr. Chickee's Funny Money". When reading "Bud, Not Buddy" one is drawn in by the hardship and struggles that confront this young boy.One can feel the pain of a lost soul with no allowable comfort zone.Readers feel the abuse and neglect Bud has to endure throughout the book. these conditions are inflicted on him by the adults who are suppose to provide shelter, love as well as compassion. In "Mr. Chickee's Funny Money"the text is childish, funny and happy. It is also engaging, but on a different level than "Bud, Not Buddy." The words just seem to jump out at you as if you were a child all over again. Just a little example for the child inside of you: SHLISHY-SPLASHY TEARS,BA-WEEP!BA-WEEP!, LUB-DUB!LUB-DUB! and my favorite PLEEZTAMEECHEW. I have to mention that even writing these words brought a smile to my face, so imagine when reading them for the first time the impact they will have.

From both of these books a child or adult can enhance their social and personal knowledge."Bud,Not Buddy"consist of a story which society as a whole can personally relate to.We all have trials and tribulations to face in our life journey. There are missing elements to all our lives that we would love to fill. We are immersed with pleasure upon reading of Bud's resilience and strength to overcome the struggles that plague is childhood. Every word we absorb gives Bud the courage to conquer the next set of obstacles he encounters. While in "Mr. Chickee's Funny Money" we are transported to our childhood to relive precious moments spent with our best-est friend (hey, do not forget about that dog that was always by your side, no matter what).The lessons in this book are about friendship, imagination and the freedom to dream.

Christopher Paul Curtis can be described has a culturally aware, versatile and sensitive author, but that would sell him short. In these 2 books he taps into several important social issue that are present within our current society. He explores the importance of having a solid family structure along with the healthy development of friendship through trust. He also references history , racism and social mobility to remind us of the past, so we continue to forge forward and demand social justice, and strive for an ever evolving society. Allow yourself to take a joy ride through the many books of CPC.

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