Press Release - Detail
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Monday, December 14, 2020

BPL CONTACT: Roy L. Williams
Director of Public Relations
Birmingham Public Library
Phone: (205) 226-3746 cell (205) 572-1359

Random House Contact: Kathy Dunn
(631) 283-5923

BPL Hosts Author Talk “The Watsons Go to Birmingham-25th Anniversary” on Wednesday, December 16

The Birmingham Public Library is proud to partner with Random House Books to Present “The Watsons Go to Birmingham 1963-Celebrating its 25th Anniversary.” This conversation between award-winning author Christopher Paul Curtis and Varian Johnson will air live beginning at 6 p.m. Central this Wednesday, December 16, on the Birmingham Public Library Facebook page. Click below for details BPL Hosts Author Talk “The Watsons Go to Birmingham-25th Anniversary” on Wednesday, December 16 (

The event comes as Random House Children’s Books celebrated the 25th anniversary of the release of Curtis’ award-winning “The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963” by releasing an updated version on November 3, 2020. Hailed by the New York Times as “marvelous” and by National Public Radio as a “modern classic,” this new release has additional content that includes a new foreword and afterword from the author, manuscript pages, and personal essays from award-winning authors. It was designed to appeal to adult fans of the book, educators, librarians, and today’s generation of young readers.

In the novel, the Watsons—10-year-old Kenny, Momma, Dad, little sister Joetta, and brother Byron—set out on a trip south to visit Grandma in Birmingham, Alabama, not realizing that they’re heading toward one of the darkest moments in America’s history. Their journey reminds us that even in the hardest times, laughter and family can help us get through anything.

For many young readers, Curtis’ book was an introduction to the civil rights movement, and many of those same readers are now activists calling for change and leading the Black Lives Matter movement across the globe. After releasing The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963,” Curtis won the Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King Award for his bestselling second novel, Bud, Not Buddy. His most recent novels for Random House include The Mighty Miss Malone, Mr. Chickee’s Messy Mission, Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money, and Bucking the Sarge. He lives with his family in Windsor, Ontario.

During BPL’s event, Curtis will engage in a conversation with Varian Johnson, author of nine novels, including The Parker Inheritance, which was named a 2019 Coretta Scott King Honor Book and a 2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor Book. Johnson’s middle grade caper novel, The Great Greene Heist, has been named to over 25 state reading and best-of lists.

A native of Florence, S.C., Johnson received a Bachelor’s in civil engineering from the University of Oklahoma and later received an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, where he serves as a faculty member. Johnson lives outside of Austin, Texas with his family.

In a February 2020 guest column in the New York Times, Johnson talked about the impact reading “The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963” had on him when he first read it during Black History Month as a young man. Read his column by clicking below I Dreaded Black History Month, Until a Novelist Opened My Eyes - The New York Times (

Tune in to hear this fascinating conversation between Johnson and Christopher Paul Curtis about “The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963” on the BPL Facebook page at 6 p.m. this Wednesday, December 16.

For additional information about the programs and services of the Birmingham Public Library, visit our website at and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter @BPL. The mission of Birmingham Public Library is to provide the highest quality library experience to our community for life-long learning, cultural enrichment, and enjoyment. This system—with 18 locations and serving the community for over 130 years—is one of the largest library systems in
the Southeast.
Page Last Modified: 6/15/2021 9:51 AM