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Elijah of Buxtonby Christopher Curtis
2008 Coretta Scott King Author Award
Synopses & Reviews
Newbery Medalist and CSK Award winner Christopher Paul Curtis's debut middle-grade/young-YA novel for Scholastic features his trademark humor, compelling storytelling, and unique narrative voice.
Eleven-year-old Elijah is the first child born into freedom in Buxton, Canada, a settlement of runaway slaves just over the border from Detroit. He's best known for having made a memorable impression on Frederick Douglass, but that changes when a former slave steals money from Elijahs friend, who has been saving to buy his family out of captivity in the South. Elijah embarks on a dangerous journey to America in pursuit of the thief and discovers firsthand the unimaginable horrors of the life his parents fled--a life from which hell always be free, if he can find the courage to get back home.
"Elijah Freeman, 11, has two claims to fame. He was the first child 'born free' to former slaves in Buxton, a (real) haven established in 1849 in Canada by an American abolitionist. The rest of his celebrity, Elijah reports in his folksy vernacular, stems from a 'tragical' event. When Frederick Douglass, the 'famousest, smartest man who ever escaped from slavery,' visited Buxton, he held baby Elijah aloft, declaring him a 'shining bacon of light and hope,' tossing him up and down until the jostled baby threw up — on Douglass. The arresting historical setting and physical comedy signal classic Curtis (Bud, Not Buddy), but while Elijah's boyish voice represents the Newbery Medalist at his finest, the story unspools at so leisurely a pace that kids might easily lose interest. Readers meet Buxton's citizens, people who have known great cruelty and yet are uncommonly polite and welcoming to strangers. Humor abounds: Elijah's best friend puzzles over the phrase 'familiarity breeds contempt' and decides it's about sexual reproduction. There's a rapscallion of a villain in the Right Reverend Deacon Doctor Zephariah Connerly the Third, a smart-talking preacher no one trusts, and, after 200 pages, a riveting plot: Zephariah makes off with a fortune meant to buy a family of slaves their freedom. Curtis brings the story full-circle, demonstrating how Elijah the 'fra-gile' child has become sturdy, capable of stealing across the border in pursuit of the crooked preacher, and strong enough to withstand a confrontation with the horrors of slavery. The powerful ending is violent and unsettling, yet also manages to be uplifting. Ages 9-12." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
A heartwarming coming-of-age story set in the rural South.
Its 1860, and 11-year-old Elijah is a first-generation freeborn child. His Canadian town of Buxton serves as a haven for runaway slaves. When the towns corrupt preacher steals money from a citizen whos been saving to buy his familys freedom, Elijah sets off for America in pursuit, in this powerful new novel by a Newbery Medalist.
About the Author
Barbara Hathaway was born in Harlem, New York, and lives in Westchester County, New York, with her family.
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Children's » Awards » Coretta Scott King Award Winners