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Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis

Elijah of Buxton (2007)

by Christopher Paul Curtis

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2,5381083,969 (4.16)73
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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Showing 1-5 of 107 (next | show all)
I really enjoyed this one. What an interesting and different perspective on slavery. What Elijah's parents have told him about former slaves is insightful, sensitive, and seems very realistic. In the children's playing slavers and abolitionists (and Elijah's revelation about it), CPC even addresses the tendency to soften slavery in depictions for children. The last few chapters are truly haunting, and yet I wouldn't hesitate to have a 9 or 10 year old read this book. CPC has struck just the right balance of acknowledging and showing the horrors, but without making it too overwhelming for his audience.

One of my favorite narrative tricks is when an author uses a very limited first person viewpoint and is still able to let the reader know more than the narrator. It's one of the things I love about [b: Walk Two Moons|53496|Walk Two Moons|Sharon Creech|http://images.gr-assets.com/books/1389035862s/53496.jpg|1237212] (among others), and CPC does it so very well here.

I will definitely be recommending this one to the sixth graders, who study both civil rights and sustainability. I will be very interested to hear their responses to it. ( )
  amandabock | Dec 10, 2019 |
I adored Elijah and thoroughly enjoyed the character and how "fra-gile" he was. I read this book aloud to my son and so it was fun doing the dialect of the characters.
His town of Buxton, Canada is near the American border and is a settlement for runaway slaves.
The town preacher really got me riled. He's a no good, low down... well you get the picture. Mr. Leroy is given some money for his hard work and he is going to use it to buy his family. The Preacher is hire for the job and Mr. Highgate goes with him. I won't mention what happens here because it would be a spoiler...
but I will add Elijah Freeman's comment, "He knowed it was 'cause of me all this happened. It's all my fault! I told him the Preacher waren't no thief." (this is not a spoiler, the money isn't necessarily stolen)
The story ends with Elijah trying to rescue five chained slaves from Kentucky. But ... sigh, I want to tell you what happens, but if you're intrigued enough you'll have to read the book for yourself or email me for the ending.
The citizens of Buxton are hard working and respectable people. I really liked that too. ( )
  VhartPowers | Dec 27, 2018 |
"Eleven-year-old Elijah lives in Buxton, Canada, a settlement of runaway slaves near the American border. He's the first child in town to be born free, and he ought to be famous just for that. Unfortunately, all that most people see is a "fra-gile" boy who's scared of snakes and talks too much. But everything changes when a former slave steals money from Elijah's friend, who has been saving to buy his family out of captivity in the South. Now it's up to Elijah to track down the thief--and his dangerous journey just might make a hero out of him, if only he can find the courage to get back home." from Amazon
  Lake_Oswego_UCC | Sep 24, 2017 |
Elijah is the eleven-year-old narrator of a grand adventure story that takes him from western Ontario to the American South and back again. Elijah lives in Buxton, Ontario, which is across the Detroit River from Detroit, Michigan Territory and a settlement created by slaves that had escaped bondage in the United States. When a robber stole money from Elijah's friend, funds to be used to purchase his family's freedom, Elijah joins a party of vigilantes who cross into the United States to apprehend the criminal and bring him to justice. While in pursuit of the robber, Elijah sees firsthand the life that his parents escaped in America. For intermediate students, Elijah of Buxton would be a jaunty, but heartrending, adventure that exposes them to the horrors of slavery. One potential difficulty, however, is the author's use of contemporary dialect in his rendering of dialogue. While it adds a patina of authenticity to the story, some students will struggle with it.
  rhoadesm1 | Jul 11, 2017 |
I had mixed feelings about this book while reading it. I liked this book because it had an interesting storyline of a place and topic that was new to me. I had never thought about the slaves that had escaped to Canada for freedom. Even though the story of Elijah turned out to be interesting, it had a rocky beginning. The book had a slow pace and wasn’t engaging for the first 13 chapters. However, the characters were well-developed and can easily draw the emotion of the audience. It was a wonderful community of people who welcomed newcomers with a celebration, but it was streaked with the menacing character of a crooked preacher. Elijah, with his fear of snakes, was perceived as “fragile” by his mother. But throughout the story, he proved to be courageous as he took steps to attempt right a huge mistake. I wouldn’t suggest this book for young readers. Even though this was an award winning book, I would probably only give it 4 stars. ( )
  KrissyKares | Apr 21, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 107 (next | show all)
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.)
Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
added by sriches | editPublishers Weekly, Reed Business Information (Jul 22, 2009)
Krista Johansen (Resource Links, December 2007 (Vol. 13, No. 2))
It may surprise some to discover that Christopher Paul Curtis, who has both a Newbery Honor and a Newbery Medal to his credit, has actually lived in Canada for a quarter of a century. In Elijah of Buxton he sets a story in Canada West (soon to become Ontario) just before the time of the American Civil War. Elijah Freeman is the child of former slaves, the first baby born in the settlement of Buxton. He is a quick-witted, resourceful, and imaginative boy with strong reactions to what he sees going on around him and a wry, self-depreciating way of presenting himself. The book is a first-person narrative, and Elijah seems to be telling the story not long after it happened. He is no adult looking back on his past but still a young boy getting events clear in his mind. Curtis can be a very funny writer and some of the more subtle comedy in the story (and some of the more sombre moments too) arise from Elijah's failure to fully understand adults. Some of these may be lost on younger children, no more experienced than Elijah, on a first reading, but they benefit older readers. Through various episodes in Elijah's daily round of school, chores, fishing, and family life, the first part of the story introduces Elijah's character and his relationships with people like Mr. Leroy, who is saving money to buy his family's freedom, and the untrustworthy, self-proclaimed Preacher. It also depicts everyday life in Buxton and conveys the history and principles of this idealistic, successful settlement of people who had escaped slavery. Elijah's pranks and adventures and the stories of loss and courage his elders tell all weave a background full of interest for the story to come. The second part of the book is about Elijah's journey across the border into Michigan, accompanying Mr. Leroy, without his parents' knowledge. They are tracking down the Preacher, who has fled with money entrusted to him to free Mr. Leroy's family. Mr. Leroy suffers a heart attack and dies. Elijah continues his hunt alone, but finds instead four men, a woman, and a baby who had escaped slavery only to be recaptured almost within sight of the border. They are chained up naked in a barn. The Preacher's body is there as well; he has been killed and Mr. Leroy's money is long gone. Elijah is horrified by the reality of slavery seen firsthand - at first he did not even realize the people were human, but thought them ghosts or demons. He tries to get some free Africans in the neighbourhood to help him rescue them, but they refuse, fearing for their own safety. He returns to take a baby back to Buxton with him, saving at least that one life. The story is one of tragedy: the baby's parents and the other captives are likely to die, because although they cannot escape their chains, Mrs. Chloe has the Preacher's revolver, given to her by Elijah; Mr. Leroy's family is still enslaved, not even knowing their husband and father has died trying to save them. It is also one of hope and small, enduring victories, as Elijah brings the baby, Hope Too-mah-ee-nee, safely to Buxton. Elijah of Buxton is an excellent story, funny, suspenseful, and horrifying. The historical background is brought to life with great attention to detail and accuracy, while Elijah's role as a narrator examining himself and his world allows the unfamiliar to be explained in a natural and unobtrusive way. Elijah is a very realistic eleven-year-old who goes from being an ordinary boy dealing with everyday problems to a person facing a situation in which even an adult would have found himself helpless to do more. Though he calls himself fragile for his overwhelming emotional reactions to events, Elijah's courage, resilience and determination make him a hero. Elijah of Buxton will quite deservedly find a place in every elementary and middle-school library. In the classroom, it could be used in units studying this period in Canada's history, in examining the history of slavery and the Underground Railroad in North American, and as a portrayal of mid-nineteenth-century life in general.
added by kthomp25 | editResource Links,, Krista Johansen
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+)
added by sriches | editKirkus Reviews
Floating up like a bubble through layers of history, buoyed with hope and comic energy…Elijah of Buxton tells the story of Elijah Freeman, the first freeborn child in the historic Elgin Settlement, a village of escaped slaves in Canada…As in his previous novels, Curtis is a master at balancing the serious and the lighthearted: as Langston Hughes said of the blues, "not softened with tears, but hardened with laughter." He has already received a Newbery medal and an honor for two novels rooted in the experience of black Americans: "The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963 and Bud, Not Buddy. His latest book is another natural award candidate and makes an excellent case, in a story positively brimming with both truth and sense, for the ability of historical fiction to bring history to life.
added by sriches | editNew York Times
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To the original twenty-one former-slave settlers of the Elgin Settlement and Buxton Mission of Raleigh: Eliza, Amelia, Mollie, Sarah, Isaiah Phares, Harriet, Solomon, Jacob King, Talbert King, Peter King, Fanny, Ben Phares, Robin Phares, Stephen Phares, Emeline Phares, and Isaac and Catherine Riley and their four children. And to the Reverend William King and his love of justice.
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It was Sunday after church and all my chores were done.
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Story of a boy who was born out of slavery and has to go to an area that has slavery.
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