Title: Elijah of Buxton
Author: Christopher Paul Curtis
Rating: 3/5 stars
Coretta Scott King Award, 2008
Newbery Honor Book Award, 2008
Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, 2008
Christopher Paul Curtis paints a life-like picture of the world of freed slaves in Canada and their struggles as they attempt to help others experience such freedom. With distinctive cultural dialect, Curtis draws the reader into the novel, creating a personal connection between the characters and the reader. Beginning with a loving practical joke amongst Elijah’s family, Curtis set the scene, developing empathy for the main character. However, his encounters with the local “preacher” of the town prove Elijah to be a suspicious yet immature young man who is beginning an adventure of a lifetime. Through his journeys, Curtis uses Elijah to develop the ideas, feelings, and events of the time when slaves of North America sought their freedom.
This is not a zip-ahead-and-see-what-happens-next novel. It’s for settling into and savoring the rich, masterful storytelling, for getting to know Elijah, Cooter and the Preacher, for laughing at stories of hoop snakes, toady-frogs and fish-head chunking and crying when Leroy finally gets money to buy back his wife and children, but has the money stolen. Then Elijah journeys to America and risks his life to do what’s right. This is Curtis’s best novel yet, and no doubt many readers, young and old, will finish and say, “This is one of the best books I have ever read.”
Divide the class in half, having half read this book fro the view point of a freed slave society. The other half of the class should read Jeffersons Sons. Students should compare and contrast the depictions of slavery in each book.
Kirkus Reviews. 2010. “Elijah of Buxton.” https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/christopher-paul-curtis/elijah-of-buxton/
Curtis, Christopher Paul. 2007. Elijah of Buxton. New York: Scholastic.
Review of the Day. 2011. “Jefferson’s Sons.” http://blogs.slj.com/afuse8production/2011/08/29/review-of-the-day-jeffersons-sons-by-kimberly-brubaker-bradley/#_