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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What is a Wool Pooh in "The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963"?

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Byron originally makes up the idea of the Wool Pooh, describing it as a kind of bogey man who hides underwater and snatches away children, in order to scare Kenny and Joey so they won't go near Collier's Landing. In Kenny's mind, however, the Wool Pooh takes on a hazy physical shape, kind of like the grim reaper - hooded, faceless, and terrifying. For Kenny, the Wool Pooh represents death and his fear of death. It appears when he is caught in the whirlpool and almost drowns, and again at the site of the church bombing when he finds the little girl's shoe.

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A "wool pooh" is a "whirlpool" pronounced with a Southern accent. However, Byron says that this is Winnie the Pooh's evil twin, who drowns people.

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