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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis

Elijah of Buxton
Elijah Freeman - what a perfect name for the first child born free in Buxton, Canada. When the story starts, he is eleven years old. In 1859, Elijah had no complaints about working; he has to do chores every day. His concern is trying to act grown-up in a very dangerous period of time. Elijah is by no means immature or irresponsible; it is just that he is inexperienced.
Tears of sorrow spring up when Elijah has to witness death and discover slaves chained up in a barn. Tears of laughter are aplenty when Elijah remembers the story of throwing up on Frederich Douglas and stories of hoop-snakes and toady frogs. Elijah is cast into the problem of a preacher stealing the money of a neighbor, Leroy. Leroy was going to use the money to buy his family's freedom and bring them up from America.
Don't read this book just because it is about slavery. Read this book because the character of Elijah does more than survive. He uses every day to improve himself. He even lets people know when he has to be home in order to study for a Latin exam. That's some special boy.
This is a relatively new book, but it has already been presented with numerous awards. Not only did it win the Coretta Scott King Award and the 2008 Newbery Honor Award, but also the Parent Choice Award. It is not unusual to win multiple awards, but this book also won the Scott O'Dell Historical Fiction Award. I don't know whom to be more proud of - Christopher Paul Curtis or Elijah Freeman. My admiration goes out to both.

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