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Cover image for Elijah of Buxton
Title:
Elijah of Buxton
ISBN:
9780739364154
Edition:
Library ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Random House/Listening Library, p2008.
Physical Description:
8 sound discs (ca. 68 min. each) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
General Note:
Unabridged.

Compact discs.
Genre:
Summary:
In 1859, eleven-year-old Elijah Freeman, the first free-born child in Buxton, Canada, which is a haven for slaves fleeing the American south, uses his wits and skills to try to bring to justice the lying preacher who has stolen money that was to be used to buy a family's freedom.
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Summary

Summary

When you first walk into a room in a house, or into a stable, they have a way of telling you they know you're there. It ain't nothing particular noticeable, but the air inside of 'em changes like it's saying, "I'm watching you." But I'd got into this stable so quiet and sneakish that nothing knowed I'd cracked open the door, held my breath, and took a step inside.

Then I heard a humming sound so near that my blanged legs and breathing frozed up all over again. Whatever it was that was making that sound was so close that even my eyeballs locked where they were at. Then I started sliding my eyes off to the left. Someone had leaned some dark bundles or sacks up 'gainst the left hand side of the stable. There were five of 'em. The noise commenced again, sounding like someone fishing 'round trying to figure which song they were 'bout to hum.

It was one of the bundles It had four live, moving arms I couldn't believe I'd come all they way to the United States of America to see my first haint


Author Notes

Newbery Medal-winning children's book author Christopher Paul Curtis was born in Flint, Michigan on May 10, 1953 and graduated from The University of Michigan. While there he won the Avery and Jules Hopwood Prizes for poetry and a draft of one of his early books. Curtis spent thirteen years on an assembly line hanging car doors.

His story The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963 received a Newbery Honor and a Coretta Scott King Honor, and Bud, Not Buddy became the first novel to win both of these awards. Elijah of Buxton received the 2008 Scott O'Dell Historical Fiction Award, the Coretta Scott King Award, and a Newbery Honor. Curtis also won the 2009 Anne V. Zarrow Award for Young Readers' Literature.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 5

Horn Book Review

(Intermediate) The story of the Underground Railroad, which led escaping slaves to Canada, has been richly celebrated in fiction. But what happened after they arrived? In Elijah's story we visit the community of Buxton, a refuge for freed slaves established in 1849 in Canada West, close to the American border. Eleven-year-old Elijah, the first child to be born free in the settlement, is an irresistible character. Ebullient and compassionate, he is a talker who can torture a metaphor until it begs for mercy. Opening chapters lull and delight us with small-town pranks and tall tales. The mood gets chillier when a new family of fugitives arrives. Elijah relates how his Pa explains their fragility: ""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. When a con man takes off with the funds Elijah's friend Mr. Leroy saved to buy his family out of slavery, Elijah and Mr. Leroy pursue the thief across the border to Michigan; and there, while hiding out in a barn, Elijah discovers a small group of captured slaves, shackled to the wall, barely alive. There is no easy happy ending here, but, in a heart-rending scene, Elijah reacts with courtesy, courage, and respect, according the wretched their dignity and giving them the one gift of freedom in his power. This arresting, surprising novel of reluctant heroism is about nothing less than nobility. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.


School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-8-Eleven-year-old Elijah Freeman has two claims to fame: he was the first free black to have been born in Buxton, an actual settlement in Canada established in 1849 by the abolitionist Reverend William King; and, during his infancy, he threw up all over the visiting Frederick Douglass. Elijah is an engaging protagonist, and whether he is completing his chores or lamenting his Latin studies or experiencing his first traveling carnival, his descriptions are full of charm and wonder. Although his colloquial language may prove challenging for some readers, it brings an authenticity and richness to the story that is well worth the extra effort that it might require. While some of the neighbors believe Elijah to be rather simple, and even his mother tends to overprotect her "fra-gile" boy, his true character shines out when a disaster occurs in the close community. Elijah's neighbor, Mr. Leroy, has been saving money for years to buy freedom for his wife and children who are still in the U.S. When this money is stolen, Elijah blames himself for inadvertently helping the thief and, risking capture by slave catchers, crosses the border into Detroit to get it back. His guileless recounting of the people he meets and the horrors he sees will allow readers to understand the dangers of the Underground Railroad without being overwhelmed by them. Elijah's decisions along the way are not easy ones, but ultimately lead to a satisfying conclusion. Curtis's talent for dealing with painful periods of history with grace and sensitivity is as strong as ever.-Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publisher's Weekly Review

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. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Booklist Review

*Starred Review* After his mother rebukes him for screaming that hoop snakes have invaded Buxton, gullible 11-year-old Elijah confesses to readers that there ain't nothing in the world she wants more than for me to quit being so doggone fra-gile. Inexperienced and prone to mistakes, yet kind, courageous, and understanding, Elijah has the distinction of being the first child born in the Buxton Settlement, which was founded in Ontario in 1849 as a haven for former slaves. Narrator Elijah tells an episodic story that builds a broad picture of Buxton's residents before plunging into the dramatic events that take him out of Buxton and, quite possibly, out of his depth. In the author's note, Curtis relates the difficulty of tackling the subject of slavery realistically through a child's first-person perspective. Here, readers learn about conditions in slavery at a distance, though the horrors become increasingly apparent. Among the more memorable scenes are those in which Elijah meets escaped slaves first, those who have made it to Canada and, later, those who have been retaken by slave catchers. Central to the story, these scenes show an emotional range and a subtlety unusual in children's fiction. Many readers drawn to the book by humor will find themselves at times on the edges of their seats in suspense and, at other moments, moved to tears. A fine, original novel from a gifted storyteller.--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2007 Booklist


Kirkus Review

Eleven-year-old Elijah Freeman is known for two things: being the first child born free in Buxton, Canada, and throwing up on the great Frederick Douglass. It's 1859, in Buxton, a settlement for slaves making it to freedom in Canada, a setting so thoroughly evoked, with characters so real, that readers will live the story, not just read it. This is not a zip-ahead-and-see-what-happens-next novel. It's for settling into and savoring the rich, masterful storytelling, for getting to know Elijah, Cooter and the Preacher, for laughing at stories of hoop snakes, toady-frogs and fish-head chunking and crying when Leroy finally gets money to buy back his wife and children, but has the money stolen. Then Elijah journeys to America and risks his life to do what's right. This is Curtis's best novel yet, and no doubt many readers, young and old, will finish and say, "This is one of the best books I have ever read." (author's note) (Fiction. 9+) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Excerpts

Excerpts

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 in his hometown as the boy who made a memorable impression on Frederick Douglass. But things change when a former slave steals money from Elijah's 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 he discovers firsthand the unimaginable horrors of the life his parents fled--a life from which he'll always be free, if he can find the courage to get back home. Christopher Paul Curtis's first novel, The Watsons Go to Birmingham, was awarded both a Newbery Honor and a Coretta Scott King Honor. His second novel, Bud, Not Buddy, won the Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King Award in 2000. He is also the author of the Golden KiteAward--winning Bucking the Sargeand, most recently, Mr. Chickee's Funny Moneyand Mr. Chickee's Messy Mission. These titles are all available on audio from Listening Library. Mirron Willis has appeared onstage in The Members, Twelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing, Wild Oats, Daughters of the Revolution, The Belle's Stratagem, and A Raisin in the Sun, among many others. His numerous television and film credits include Monk, ER, 24, The Parkers, Star Trek®: Voyager, Fracture, and Independence Day. Excerpted from Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.


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