Parents' Guide to

Elijah of Buxton

By Matt Berman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Funny, powerful tale of free Black community in 1859 Canada.

Elijah of Buxton Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 10+

Based on 8 parent reviews

age 12+

Great Piece of Historical Fiction and Suspenseful Story

First recommendation... use the listening version. It allows you to understand the dialect, and it builds up suspense and understanding by allowing the book to be read to you at a slower pace. My 13 year old daughter and I had great discussions about this fabulous book, while we studied slavery in US history. This was an eye awakening first exposure to slavery- as the boy, Elijah, ( read by a man, which makes it a good book for older kids, too) the first "born free" Black baby in Buxton, Canada, discovers with you how slavery exists in the the county called America.

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
age 11+

Devoid of faults!

THE BOOK: Is about 11 year old Elijah, who lives with a non-slave family durinh the times of slavery at a settlement in Canada. His good life is interupted when his friend Mr.Leroy's money is stolen by "Preacher" and Elijah feels obligated to get the money back for him. THE RATING: The book is funny and historically significant at the same time. Books like these are hard to find. Its light tone prevents it from becoming too depressing. Thinking back, there is not one thing wrong with this book. It is a masterpiece! AGE: While it is funny, it IS about slavery. Rated ON 11 and up for: violence, blood, infrequent nudity, and strong subject matter.

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
Great role models

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (8 ):
Kids say (24 ):

This exciting and moving historical novel is told in the voice of a winningly naive child brimming with compassion and curiosity. In his award-winning debut The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963, author Christopher Paul Curtis established the style that also serves well in Elijah of Buxton: Both books start out with a charming and amusing tone (some of the humor a bit off-color, perhaps, but true to the narrator's age and personality) before giving way to a worrisome situation. The affection and familiarity the reader feels for the characters by the time things get heavy add to the impact of the events. As with The Watsons, Elijah's story is informed by history -- in this case, the horrific history of slavery and the inspiring free Black settlement that Buxton is patterned on.

Elijah of Buxton makes a wonderful teaching tool that can be great for classroom and home discussions, and can help children imagine life in 1859 by seeing the world of the novel through a child's eyes.

Book Details

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate