*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 slavesfirst, 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
About the Author
Christopher Paul Curtis was born in Flint, Michigan. After high school graduation, he worked on the assembly line of the Fisher Body Plant for 13 years, until Christopher took a year off work to write his first novel. The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963 won a Newbery Honor and a Coretta Scott King Honor book citation in 1996. Bud, Not Buddy received the Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Award in 2000. His most recent book, Elijah of Buxton, has garnered multiple awards, including a Newbery Honor, the Coretta Scott King Author Award, and the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction, the TD Children's Literature Book Award and the CLA Book of the Year, and was a finalist in the Governor General's Literary Award for Children's Literature. "This novel came to me in a way that was far different than any other," says Curtis. "From the word 'go' Elijah and I became close friends. When I'd go to the library to write, it was as if he were anxiously waiting for me, waiting to tell about his life, his worries, his adventures."