Elijah of Buxton

( 58 )

Overview


Master storyteller Christopher Paul Curtis's Newbery Honor novel, featuring his trademark humor, unique narrative voice, and new cover art--now in paperback!

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...

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Overview


Master storyteller Christopher Paul Curtis's Newbery Honor novel, featuring his trademark humor, unique narrative voice, and new cover art--now in paperback!

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.

Winner of the 2008 Coretta Scott King Author Award

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  • Christopher Paul Curtis
    Christopher Paul Curtis  

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
As a first-generation freeborn black, 11-year-old Elijah Buxton had no direct experience with slavery. That changes, however, when a thief steals money set aside for freeing a friend's enslaved family. Elijah sets off rapidly in pursuit, leaving behind his Canadian home and crossing into dangerous American territory, where he encounters terrifying evidence of the grievous human cost of slavery. History is made palpable in this novel by Newbery Medal winner Christopher Paul Curtis.
Bruno Navasky
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.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

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
Lois Ruby
Occasionally a book comes along that has us laughing one second and swallowing the lump in our throats the next; that brands haunting images into our brains, through the fresh voice of an irrepressible character. That would be 11-year-old Elijah, the first child born free in Buxton, Canada, across the border from Detroit. Mischievous Elijah, famous for once throwing up on Frederick Douglass, is the heart of Buxton. Now he yearns to be "growned up," which — thanks to a skillful author — happens both gradually and suddenly, when Elijah embarks on a dangerous odyssey into America. This is Curtis's most fully realized novel, about family, human connections, and the passion for freedom. Though written in modified dialect, the language flows and rolls off the page like poetry. Incidentally, Buxton truly was a safe-haven colony, yet Americans know little about where runaways settled when they reached Canada. Recommended for ages 9 and up, this is a humdinger of a tale that twists and turns and breaks our hearts, before catapulting us to the sad, yet triumphant ending. Reviewer: Lois Ruby
Children's Literature - Kathryn Erskine
Christopher Paul Curtis knows how to write characters so engaging and believable you want to meet them in person. In fact, after reading his books, you feel like you have. From the author of award winners, The Watsons go to Birmingham 1963 and Bud, not Buddy, comes another novel with heart and meaning wrapped in rollicking humor. Readers will slip into the story as they, along with eleven-year-old Elijah, assume a life of freedom, but this is the 1850's and slavery still exists in America, alarmingly close to the freed slave community of Buxton, Canada. Helping people escape from slavery is a deadly business, hardly a task for the fragile Elijah. His claim to fame is being the nervous baby who threw up on Frederick Douglas. He is scared to death of snakes and is taken in by a colorful con-artist called the Preacher, but the kid has heart, a sense of responsibility, and a feeling of what is right and wrong. He witnesses death and learns grisly truths, including the idea that giving up a child for the sake of freedom may well be the greatest gift. Elijah's heroism is believable, growing from almost accidental, to faltering, to determined, albeit limited, saving one tiny soul rather than a whole group, which is all that can be expected of a child. Indeed, giving a child the opportunity to learn the horrors of the past but understand the hope of the future is the most we can ask of a character—and of an author.
School Library Journal

Gr 4-8- Set in 1860, 11-year-old Elijah is the first child born into freedom in Buxton, Canada, a settlement of runaway and freed slaves, in Christopher Paul Curtis's Newbery Honor book (Scholastic, 2007). When money that Elijah's friend has been saving to send to America to buy his family's freedom is stolen, Elijah crosses the border into Detroit on a dangerous mission to help recover it. Narrated by Elijah, the horrors of slavery are revealed. This engrossing tale is read by Mirron Willis who effortlessly varies his rich, textured voice to make each character unique. This story will captivate listeners.-Karen T. Bilton, Mary Jacobs Memorial Library, Rocky Hill, NJ

Kirkus Reviews
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+)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780439023450
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/1/2009
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 41,985
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Christopher Paul Curtis’ 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 Kite Award-winning Bucking the Sarge, Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money, and Mr. Chickee’s Messy Mission. These titles are all available on audio from Listening Library.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 58 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(31)

4 Star

(11)

3 Star

(7)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(5)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 58 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 30, 2012

    Highly Recommended

    Great book for summer reading

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    great read for kids

    Newbery winning author Christopher Paul Curtis has written 2 of my favorite historical novels, "Bud, Not Buddy" and now "Elijah of Buxton". I'd recommend both these books to anyone, but especially to kids aged 8-12.Elijah is a free-born boy growing up in the real town of Buxton, Ontario, a place where former slaves lived in relative safety before the Civil War. When a thief steals the money intended to buy a slave family's freedom, Elijah sets off in pursuit to get the money back. On his journey, he must avoid bounty hunters looking for runaway slaves to take back to the US. Determined to do the right thing, Elijah is optimistic, resourseful, and very brave.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 9, 2009

    Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Pual Curtis

    In the Newberry Medal winning story, Elijah of Buxton, Elijah is a cowardly eleven year old living in a free settlement in Canada. He is the first child born free in the settlement of Buxton. During the celebration Elijah Freeman threw up on Fredrick Douglas, who was considered to be the smartest man who had ever escaped from slavery. Elijah is an excellent worker and fisher, but is very afraid of snakes and other simple things in life. The preacher, who carries around a pistol everywhere he goes, says that his talent of fishing is a true gift from above. When Mr. Leroy, who is a friend of Elijah's, earns enough money to buy his family out of slavery, the preacher, who was thought to have been a friend, steals his money. Elijah sets off and crosses the American border into Michigan to hunt the preacher down and get Mr. Leroy's money back.
    Although the story progresses slowly, and younger readers may become bored very quickly, Christopher Paul Curtis does a great job at introducing almost everybody in Buxton. He makes you feel like your right in the story, experiencing everything the main character (Elijah) goes through and all of his adventures. This was the best book I have ever read, thank you Christopher Paul Curtis.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2008

    Entertaining nonstop adventure

    Elijah of Buxton is a hero for youngsters of all ages. Elijah of Buxton is laugh out loud humor and powerful history combined in one book. Christopher Paul Curtis has written another powerful story to make us understand history clearer. Mr. Curtis is able to bring the characters to life with each page. You can feel the joy and pain the slaves, freedmen and former slaves feel in the style Mr. Curtis writes. I recommend this book to all teachers for the classroom, history buffs and avid readers.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2013

    Beauty

    ELIJAH SEXY

    3 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2013

    Me

    Loved this book

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2013

    Solie2624

    Cool

    3 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2013

    TOTALLLYY

    SOOOOO

    B-O-R-I-N-G

    NO STARS

    3 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2012

    Boring

    I hated this book. It was boring and hard to understand. Not worth it!

    3 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2013

    Awesome Book

    Very intresting book!! I love that this book has cliff hangers and lots of suspense that makes you not want to put the book down!! I highly reccomend buying this book!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2013

    Elijah

    I think that it was very insightful and i like how Elijah is very detailed in the book

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2013

    Kcwassup

    I really lov books lik the/ wastons go to birmingham-1963.but ths book is really cool too!!!!!!!!!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2013

    Emily's review

    My fav part was when Elijah put the toady frog in mama's sweater and for payback mama put a snake in the cookie jar

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2013

    Super bowl sunday!!!!

    Ravens v. 49 ers type to Skyler....... SUPER BOWL!!!!!!!!!

    1 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2013

    Anonymus

    I love this it is so great. Also very adventourus or however you spell that I don't have a grammer check! So dont push me Im tired so exuse my spelling.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2014

    great story love this book

    great story love this book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2013

    I read this

    Wonderful wrie

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2013

    Ok MORGAN B.

    Another ok book by chrisopher paul curtis.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    I am conflicted...

    Chrisopher Paul Curtis writes such amazing books, and this one really isn't any different, except that it's more like two books. The first 200 pages or so read like humorous and heartwarming stories in the life of Elijah, the first child born in the settlement of runaway slaves of Buxton in Canada. In this chapter, he learns this lesson, in this chapter he does this, etc. It's all very cute, but I began to wonder where the author was going with it... Then the real book starts, and I could not bring myself to put the book down after that. Elijah travels over to Michigan on a mission and learns some hard truths. Wow, what an ending. I recommend this book only for the second half of the book, because I worry that the first half of the book might lose some younger readers. I really believe that had this book been more cohesive, it would have won the Newbery instead of the Newbery Honor.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2011

    Very Slow!!

    It's a well written story;except, it would only mean something if it urged you to finish the book. I was unable to complete this book because the plot was very sluggish and boring. not a recommended book for people who want some excitement.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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