By Christopher Paul Curtis
Published by Scholastic Press, 2007
Winner of the Coretta Scott King Award and a Newbery Honour Book for 2008, Elijah of Buxton is another perfect choice for the classroom in February. Eleven-year-old Elijah Freeman is the first child born into freedom in Buxton, Ontario, a settlement of runaway slaves founded in 1849. Readers follow Elijah and his escapades in Buxton until he joins a friend, Mr. Leroy, on a perilous journey into the United States – and discovers for himself the world of slavery from which his parents escaped.
What has drawn so many readers to Elijah of Buxton is Curtis’ gift for crafting a moving story that uniquely combines heart-wrenching emotions with outright hilarity. Much of that is Curtis’ treatment of the topic of slavery, and in the author's note, he discusses how difficult it was to take on such a heavy subject and portray it from a child’s point of view. Elijah of Buxton has already become a classroom favourite at the grade 4/5 level, and if you haven’t yet read it, make it a point to pick it up! Students will immediately connect with goofy Elijah and will find it difficult not to get emotional during the more dramatic events. It makes for an excellent novel study that combines an important aspect of Canadian history with a charming fictional narrative.
Christopher Paul Curtis has won a TD Canadian Children’s Book Award and he went to university in Canada. Check out his website at: http://www.nobodybutcurtis.com