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Elijah of Buxton
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that, while Elijah of Buxton isn't as graphic as some books about slavery, it has its share of horrors, including beating deaths (only the aftermath described), lynching, scars from beatings and brandings, and adults and children shackled, starved, and deprived of water.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Elijah is the first child born in freedom in the Buxton settlement for escaped and freed slaves in Canada. Though he has certainly heard his elders talk, he has never experienced slavery directly. Instead, he has a good life, is getting a solid education, goes fishing, and lives with his loving family in their own home.
His closest experience of slavery has been the occasional rumors of slave catchers in the area, and when newly escaped slaves arrive at the settlement. That is, until the money Mr. Leroy was saving to buy the rest of his family out of slavery is stolen. Then Elijah, feeling partly responsible, agrees to cross over to America to try to get it back.
Includes Author's Note on Buxton, a real place, now a historic site.
Is it any good?
In Christopher Paul Curtis' award-winning debut, The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963, he firmly established the style that serves him so brilliantly in ELIJAH OF BUXTON. This is another first-person narrative, in vivid dialect, by a winningly naive child loaded with personality. Both books have a delightfully funny first half (some of the humor a bit off-color perhaps, but very true to the narrator's age and personality) and a powerfully moving historical event in the second half -- in this case, slavery -- made more powerful by the familiarity the reader has with the characters it will impact.
This wonderful, moving novel is sure to become a staple of discussion groups in schools and libraries across the country. Curtis' signal contribution to children's literature is his creation of novels that address important historical issues and events in an emotionally powerful, intellectually challenging, compassionate way, yet are simply rollicking good fun as well.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Pa's statement regarding escaped slaves: "Don't no one get out of America without paying some terrible cost, without having something bad done permanent to 'em, without having something cut off of 'em or burnt into 'em or et up inside of 'em."
What does his statement mean, and do you think it was true?
How is it shown in each of the characters in the book?
What do you think about the aftermath of slavery?
- Author: Christopher Paul Curtis
- Genre: Historical Fiction
- Topics: Great Boy Role Models, History, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
- Publication date: August 1, 2007
- Number of pages: 341
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Awards: Coretta Scott King Medal and Honors, Newbery Medal and Honors
Themes & Topics
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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.