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The Journey of Little Charlie

by Christopher Paul Curtis

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464251,994 (5)None
Member:sgrame
Title:The Journey of Little Charlie
Authors:Christopher Paul Curtis
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Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:J fiction, historical fiction, slavery, runaway slaves, sharecroppers, African Americans

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The Journey of Little Charlie by Christopher Paul Curtis

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Christopher Paul Curtis (Elijah of Buxton, Madman of Piney Woods) has another great book based around the settlement of former slaves in Buxton, Canada. When Little Charlie's dad dies in a freak accident chopping down a tree, it is just the start of the family bad luck. The overseer from the Tanner plantation offers condolences to his mother and him, with the information that the father owed him $50 and they had to pay immediately. As the Bobo family were just poor sharecroppers, they could not come up with the money and since Little Charlie was quite large (6'4") and strong for his size, Cap'n Buck said Charlie could pay the debt by taking his dad's place accompanying him on a journey up north to get back $4000 some thieves had stolen from him. They start off down the road and the "nice" cap'n goes back and kills Charlie's mother. Charlie experiences a range of emotions as he finds out that the "thieves" are runaway slaves, with his life depending on the capn's whims as well. This coming of age story explores themes of slavery, influence of how someone is raised, and bravery. Great for grades 4-7. ( )
  sgrame | May 16, 2018 |
Christopher Paul Curtis (Elijah of Buxton, Madman of Piney Woods) has another great book based around the settlement of former slaves in Buxton, Canada. When Little Charlie's dad dies in a freak accident chopping down a tree, it is just the start of the family bad luck. The overseer from the Tanner plantation offers condolences to his mother and him, with the information that the father owed him $50 and they had to pay immediately. As the Bobo family were just poor sharecroppers, they could not come up with the money and since Little Charlie was quite large (6'4") and strong for his size, Cap'n Buck said Charlie could pay the debt by taking his dad's place accompanying him on a journey up north to get back $4000 some thieves had stolen from him. They start off down the road and the "nice" cap'n goes back and kills Charlie's mother. Charlie experiences a range of emotions as he finds out that the "thieves" are runaway slaves, with his life depending on the capn's whims as well. This coming of age story explores themes of slavery, influence of how someone is raised, and bravery. Great for grades 4-7. ( )
  sgrame | May 16, 2018 |
The Journey of Little Charlie by Christopher Paul Curtis is an incredibly powerful middle grade novel. Set in South Carolina in 1858, this is the story of Little Charlie Bobo, son of Big Charlie Bobo, sharecropper and labourer who has recently met an untimely end thanks to a rock and an axe. When Cap’n Buck, the overseerer on the Tanner Plantation, hears of Big Charlie’s death he comes to collect the debt he’s owed. This sets Little Charlie off on a journey of survival, discovery, and heroism. In a journey that takes them from the swamps of South Carolina, to the streets of Detroit, and across the Detroit River to Windsor and Saint Catherines, Ontario, Canada, Cap’n Buck and Charlie are in pursuit of thieves who stole from Mr. Tanner.

The Journey of Little Charlie is written in Charlie’s voice, the voice of a boy from the Carolina’s before the turn of the last century. It took the first chapter to get used to the colloquialisms but once I got into it I was transported back to a terrible and tumultuous time in North American history; when big plantation owners sent slave catchers up to Canada to steal free black men, women, and children and take them back to work on the plantation. To a time when these same people had to show papers to prove they were free and even that wasn’t enough. A fantastic middle grade read for an introduction into African American history. Christopher Paul Curtis is an incredible storyteller taking the reader into the heart of Little Charlie. One of my favourite things to do after I'm done reading a book is to turn to the back and read the acknowledgments and information included by the author about how the story came to be. It’s so fascinating to read how the story changes and evolves during the writing and editing process.

One aspect of the story is how Little Charlie is really a product of his environment and Curtis forces us to examine how our environment affects our biases and our actions. On Little Charlie's journey he begins to examine his beliefs and the reasoning behind his beliefs. He begins to question all of the things he has been told since birth about plantation owners, sharecroppers, and slaves. He slowly begins to realize the errors in his thinking and perhaps even try and do the right thing instead of the expected thing. He forces us, the readers, to look inward and ask ourselves “What would we do if placed in the same position as Little Charlie?” I’m a huge fan of historical fiction and would put The Journey of Little Charlie at the top of my must read historical fiction list. ( )
  StephLamb | Mar 28, 2018 |
Little Charlie Bono is the son of a white sharecropper. Through a twisted round of fate, he finds himself on a mission to recapture a family that has escaped slavery in the north. The mission takes him from his South Carolina home into Canada.

A few weeks after the death of Little Charlie Bobo’s father, Cap’n Buck, the overseer of the plantation on which they farm, tells the 12-year-old and his ma that father, Charlie Bobo had taken a down payment on a job to recover lost property. In this way, Charlie becomes a partner with a man known for his cruelty on a mission to track enslaved people. Cap’n Buck finds the family he is looking for and discovers the son of the family, Sylvanus Demarest. Sylvanus is attending school in Canada, and their mission now becomes an international kidnapping. Be sure to read the notes at the end by the author, Curtis. You will learn that the pursuit of Sylvanus Demarest is based on an actual incident. By seeing the story through the eyes of a poor white boy and a white overseer, readers confront how so many were connected by slavery. It is eye opening how much the formerly enslaved valued their freedom and what they were willing to do to help one of their own remain free. To me it is unbelievable that human beings were treated this way at any point in history.

I listened to the well done audio version. It may be easier to listen to the dialect than read it. At the end, the author speaks in his deep, booming voice the particulars of how and why this work came to be.

Be aware that the Southern whites speak in dialect, and they refer to black people with the offensive term “darkie,” both authentic to the 1858 setting.

(Historical fiction. 10-14) ( )
  jothebookgirl | Mar 21, 2018 |
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