TTLG Author/Illustrator Profiles

Christopher Paul Curtis

Christopher Paul Curtis

Christopher Paul Curtis has felt a burning desire to write ever since he couldn't talk his way out of problems. Born in Flint, Michigan, Curtis spent his first 13 years after high school on the assembly line of Flint's historic fisher body plant #1. His job entailed hanging doors, and it left him with an aversion to getting into and out of large automobiles - particularly big Buicks.

Curtis' writing - and his dedication to it - has been greatly influenced by his family members, particularly his wife, Kaysandra. It was she who told Curtis that he "better hurry up and start doing something constructive with his life or else start looking for a new place to live." And with those loving words of inspiration, a writing career was launched. It is easy to see why Curtis has such a heartfelt respect for the power of words.

It is also easy to see why, with grandfathers like Earl "Lefty" Lewis, a Negro Baseball League pitcher, and a 1930's bandleader Herman E. Curtis, Sr., of "Herman Curtis and the Dusky Devastators of the Depression," Christopher Paul Curtis was destined to be come an entertainer.

Curtis won the Avery Hopwood Prize for an early draft of The Watsons Go To Birmingham - 1963, while attending the University of Michigan. Soon after publication, The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963 won two of the most prestigious awards in children's literature - a Newbery Honor and a Coretta Scott King Honor. Curtis was found in the public library feverishly at work on his next novel the morning the awards were announced. In addition, Curtis' extraordinary debut novel has been awarded numerous other honors including being named a Best Book of 1995 by such publications as The New York Times Book Review, The Horn Book, Publishers Weekly and the Bulletin.