The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis

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Chapter 13 Summary

Kenny had only "halfway listened" when Grandma Sands had warned them about going to Collier's Landing to swim, so when he and Joey and Byron come to the crossroads that requires them to choose between the Landing and the public swimming area, he is anxious to choose the former. A posted, handwritten warning signed by Joe Collier only intensifies his curiosity, but Joey and even Byron have no inclination to explore the forbidden area. Grandma Sands has said that there are dangerous whirlpools at Collier's Landing that recently caused the death of a young boy. When Joey asks what a whirlpool is, Byron obligingly explains that a "Wool Pooh" is Winnie the Pooh's "evil twin brother," who resides underwater to "snatch stupid kids down with him." Kenny does not understand why his usually rebellious and adventurous older brother is suddenly so boring and compliant with the rules. He decides that it is time for him to have a "Fantastic Adventure" on his own. As Byron and Joey head toward the public swimming area, Kenny goes by himself to Collier's Landing.

Kenny is delighted with the water at Collier's Landing, which is "dark, dark blue, and best of all...about a hundred degrees cooler" than anything he has encountered since coming to Alabama. Despite another warning sign, he ventures into the water, trying to catch some of the slow-moving fish lazily darting about right by the shore. His attention is diverted by the sight of a big, green turtle swimming enticingly back and forth in the deeper water. As he steps forward and tries to grab the creature, the rocky ground beneath his feet begins to slide away. Kenny tries to swim back to shore but is inexplicably pulled underwater. Terrified, he desperately punches the water with his arms and kicks with his legs, but he goes down again. Just when he is sure that he will never come back up, he sees the Wool Pooh, "big and gray with hard square-looking fingers" and an empty void where the face should be. He then catches sight of a little girl in a pretty blue dress,...

(The entire section is 558 words.)