illustrated close-up of Kenny Watson with fire in the background behind him

The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963

by Christopher Paul Curtis

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How did Mrs. Watson know that something was up? 

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Mrs. Watson is very astute when it comes to reading Byron. When Byron sidles into the room with a covered head and avoids the eyes of everyone in the room, Momma immediately knows something is up. She can read his body language as he tries to run upstairs without being noticed. This is when Momma pulls back Byron's head covering and exclaims, "You've gone and done it, haven't you?"

Momma is furious that Byron has straightened his hair in spite of her wishes. However, she decides to remain calm and let Mr. Watson handle it when he gets home. Byron gets sent to his room to await sentencing when Daddy arrives. Kenny enjoys Byron's unease as he waits to see what Daddy is going to do. Jetta cries and asks By if there is any way he can wash it out. Since Byron's conk is permanent, he is confident that there is nothing Momma and Daddy can do to him. However, when Daddy gets home, he shows Byron who is in charge and shaves Byron's head.

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