Ten Reasons to Read Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis
1. The story is based on the real history of the Elgin Settlement and Buxton Mission of Ontario Canada. This is a place established by a white minister for escaped and freed slaves in the 1850s. Much of the novel is based on the true facts of this place. The history itself is rich and interesting. The book is dedicated to the first twenty inhabitants of the town. Elijah, a fictional character, was the first child born free in Buxton.
2. Even though Elijah, the narrator, is only eleven, he deals with very complex and adult related situations. Some of the situations are "bust-a-gut" funny and some are deadly serious. Throughout it all, Elijah has to think smart and as grown up as he can to keep himself and others safe in his world. Kids today of any age can relate….especially kids in grades 4-8.
3. The chapter 'Familiarity Breeds Contempt' is the best lesson I've ever encountered on why no one in their right mind should ever use the "n" word. It starts out funny, ends up serious and satisfying.
4. The end of the story has fantastic suspense. Read this…"When you first walk into a room in a house, or into a stable, they have a way of telling you they know you're there. It ain't nothing particular noticeable, but the air inside of 'em changes like it's saying, "I'm watching you." But I got into this stable so quiet and sneakish that nothing knowed I'd cracked open the door, held my breath and took a step inside." (p. 289-290).
5. There are descriptions of slave life re-told by characters that escaped from slavery or who are attempting to escape are appropriate for juvenile readers but carry horrors in a way that the reader feels like they understand slavery in new way.
6. Even though the narration and dialog are written in the dialect of the times and group, it doesn't make the story harder to read.
7. The characters of the book are believable, loveable and funny. Even though living in Buxton isn't easy, it's full of people anyone would want for family, friends and neighbors.
8. Elijah has one of the coolest talents described in a story—chunking.
9. The author, Christopher Paul Curtis has written many other GREAT books. His writing is so rich and descriptive that it makes the reader want to read all his books. Books by Curtis can be found at his official website: http://www.randomhouse.com/features/christopherpaulcurtis/
10. As with several of Curtis' books, Elijah of Buxton is an award winner. It was a Newberry Honor Book in 2008 as well as winner of the 2008 Coretta Scott King Prize.
Curtis, C. Elijah of Buxton 2007. New York: Scholastic Press