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Meet “Watsons” Author Christopher Paul Curtis


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[Below is a letter Christopher Paul Curtis wrote for inclusion in the movie tie-in edition of The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963.]

Dear Reader,

The Watsons Go To Birmingham-1963 was my first novel, and its impact has been greater than I ever imagined. Millions of children have enjoyed it. And now . . . gulp . . . it’s being made into a television movie!

When one of my novels is being adapted to another medium, I worry. Some authors say their books are their babies, and that metaphor rings true here; both baby and novel require endless hours of nurturing, and worry, and a team if they are to flourish. So many things can go wrong in the transition from book to feature film. I wondered: would my baby be given proper care?

My worries disappeared when my family and I arrived on the set, because every member of the cast and crew was dedicated to making this novel come alive. Particularly impressive were the youngest actors, Skai Jackson, Harrison Knight and Bryce Clyde Jenkins. I saw only a few scenes but was surprised by their emotional impact.

One of my favorite authors, Lois Lowry, has said if an adaptation of a children’s book to a movie is to succeed, the spirit of the book must be kept alive. I am so happy and honored because the same spirit with which I wrote the novel is reflected in the movie.

September 15, 2013 is the 50th anniversary of the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, the event that inspired The Watsons Go To Birmingham-1963. In recognition of the anniversary, the movie will premiere on Hallmark Channel on September 20, 2013. I am very grateful to the executive producers, Tonya Lewis Lee and Nikki Silver, for sticking with this project for ten years and for handling it with such love and affection.