Thursday, February 25, 2016

Elijah of Buxton gets 4 Stars {Historical Fiction} {Middle Grade Lit}

I'm a sucker for a good Historical Fiction.  I do love them; I love learning history in an entertaining fashion.  I also love Christopher Paul Curtis's writing; he is an excellent storyteller.  Curtis did a fantastic job with Elijah of Buxton and it is no surprise that this book won a Newbery Honor in 2008.

I give Elijah of Buxton 4 out of 5 Stars. I felt the story was humorous, enlightening, educational, and it would be a fantastic read aloud for a teacher or a great lit circle/reading group book.  There are many aspects you will be able to discuss, and Elijah, the first black baby to be born in freedom, is a fun and adventurous boy that kids will enjoy reading about, but he is also an educated and free black boy with good morals.  He is a great and inspiring main character.

There are many aspects of Buxton, a small black settlement just across the Canadian border, during the 1800s that I thoroughly enjoyed.  I loved how the settlement required you to have a home that looked a certain way; it was like the first HOA.  The author note at the end of the book let me know that when someone moved to the settlement they had to purchase land, clear the land, build a 4 bedroom or larger home, have the home look similar to others, and it had to have a flower and vegetable garden.  Impressive.  I also found the author's note, at the end of the book, that white Canadians would send their kids to the school/academy in Buxton b/c it was that good.  All in all, Buxton was very progressive and seemed to have their priorities in order.  

There are many black slaves that tried to escape to Buxton, and Elijah helped some of those black slaves.  When Elijah helped Chloe and the African King is when the story really started moving.  I think the only reason this book lost a star in my book review is b/c the beginning was slow and it seemed to take a while to get going.  

The book publishers feel this book is great for 3rd-7th grade, but I think the youngest I would go with is fourth grade.  Honestly, I think I would prefer 5th grade through 8th grade.  The dialect in the book is difficult, and some kids may have a trying time making it through.  However, a teacher in 3rd or 4th grade could use it as a great class read aloud; this would allow the teacher to get the most educationally out of the book.     

Amazon has the following book review from BookList:

*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 slaves—first, 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."

Have you read Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis? What would you rate it?

Happy Award Winning Fantastic Children's Lit/Middle Grade Fiction Historical Fiction Reading


I do like the ending where Chloe and the African King, the parents of the baby girl, realize that their dreams can come true even if they didn't make it to freedom themselves b/c their baby girl makes it.  


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