Thursday, July 22, 2010

2008 Newbery Honor

Elijah of Buxton
by Christopher Paul Curtis

I consider Elijah of Buxton to be an ideal example of historical fiction; a rare model of literary excellence. Author, Christopher Paul Curtis’, vibrant narrative technique provides insight into the daily lives of slaves, former slaves, and those trying to flee that way of life. The story’s main character is an eleven-year-old boy named Elijah who lives in Buxton, Canada which is near the American/Canadian border. Buxton is an area settled by runaway slaves; however, Elijah is not a slave. In the story, Elijah is the first child in town to be born free. Elijah is a child who is scared of most everything, and the folks in town consider him to be “fra-gile”. However, when a past slave takes money from one of Elijah’s friends, he has an opportunity to become a local hero!

As I read the story, I found that the text had the ability to make the reader experience many emotions. I liked this about the story. The book was reminiscent at times, while the tale was fascinating, heart-stopping, and comical. One of the reasons that I chose this book and enjoyed it so much was that I have always been interested in the particular time period portrayed and the history behind it.

Christopher Paul Curtis has always been a big reader. He says that he became a writer partly because, as a child, he could not “find books about me”. Although I am familiar with some of Curtis’ books, I have not actually read any others written by him; however, after reading Elijah of Buxton, I am looking forward to checking out more of his work. Other titles written by Christopher Paul Curtis include Bud, Not Buddy, The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963, Bucking the Sarge, and Mr. Chickee’s Messy Mission.

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