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.)
"Like a warm cup of alphabet soup, this offering packs several essential ingredients--hope, love, despair, courage, family, honor--into a hearty, child-size blend."--Kirkus "Viney's spare narrative will hold readers with the dramatic details of her daily life."--Booklist
It's 1860, and eleven-year-old Elijah is a first-generation freeborn child. His Canadian town of Buxton, located just across the border from Detroit, serves as a haven for runaway slaves and their children, where Blacks can live free and govern themselves away from the horrors of pre-emancipation America. When the town's corrupt preacher steals money from a citizen who's been saving to buy his family's freedom, Elijah sets off for Detroit in pursuit. He encounters a group of captured runaway slaves; unable to save them all, he escapes with the youngest--a baby--and returns to Buxton a hero.
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.
A heartwarming coming-of-age story set in the rural South. With her friend Missy Violet away in Florida, Viney has big shoes to fill. While there are ailing neighbors to comfort, Vineys favorite teacher has left school—and Vineys irrepressible cousin Charles continues his mischief-making. Through short, powerful vignettes and letters between Missy Violet, Viney, and others, the day-to-day happenings in this warm southern town come to life.
About the Author
Barbara Hathaway was born in Harlem, New York. Missy Violet and Me is based on the recollections of her mother, who often spoke glowingly of a relative who served as midwife to the southern community she grew up in during the 1930s. Barbara lives in Westchester County with her family. Missy Violet and Me is her second book for Houghton Mifflin Books for Children.