book review: Elijah of Buxton

My 2009 Book List gets a BIG thumbs down. Not that the books aren't good... it's just that I haven't read them!

I got half way through The Reason for God and skimmed Total Money Makeover. Does that count? I'm thinking not.

Recently though, a friend (who teaches Early Childhood Ed/Reading) lent me Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis which has won both the Newberry Medal and the Coretta Scott King Award. It's technically considered young adult fiction... a favorite genre of mine, and this book did not disappoint!

Elijah is the twelve year old, born-free, son of former slaves. His family lives in the very real community of Buxton in Southern Ontario, Canada, a town specifically for escaped and freed slaves. The book follows Elijah in his day to day life, the mishaps he gets into with his friend Cooter, time at school, and interactions with others in Buxton. Though Elijah is labeled a "fra-gile" boy, at the end of the story he realizes that love and hope and determination can overcome his fear as he helps a family of slaves who had escaped but were recaptured.

The more I think on this book the more I like it.

I really enjoyed it while I was reading, as I was laughing one minute and in tears the next. But the overarching lessons and history that this book imparts are much further reaching.

- The community of Buxton is built around the townspeople helping one another. Elijah truly is depicted with a spirit of generosity and helpfulness.

- Historically the book is very real. Curtis does not shy away from harshness or horror of slavery, but at the same time, as this is a young adult book, he handles to topic in a manner suitable for young readers

- Self-sacrifice is a theme I see throughout. Mr. Leroy's sacrifice for his family, Elijah's sacrifice to try to help the recaptured slave family, the town's sacrifice of personal wealth for the good and betterment of everyone else, etc.

I highly recommend this book to young readers and older readers alike. This would be a great book for a parent and child to read together and discuss.

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