Luann's Reviews > Elijah of Buxton

Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis
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Aug 07, 08

bookshelves: newbery-honor, historical-fiction, childrens, 2008, odell-award, cs-king-award
Read in August, 2008

I had a hard time deciding what to rate this book. It isn't very action-packed or exciting. In fact, the events from the book description don't take place until the last 100 pages of the story. For the first 240 pages I felt like I was waiting for the real story to begin.

Also, the heavy use of dialect makes the reading a bit tedious. I hope I never have to read "gunn" used for "going to" or even "gonna" again!

On the other hand, I was fascinated with the setting. I learned a lot I hadn't known before about the settlement of runaway slaves called Buxton in Canada.

I also really liked the characters, especially Elijah and his wonderful sense of humor. He makes a great narrator. A favorite "Elijah" quote that made me chuckle: "All the growned folks that hadn't never learnt to read nor write whilst they were 'slaved in America had to take lessons at the school house at night. Between cooking and cleaning and gardening and sewing and knitting and working the fields at harvesttime and helping out at the chopping bees and the raising bees and tending to her sheep and shearing 'em and gathering wool and carding it and spinning it, Ma had been lazy and was slacking off on her school lessons and they waren't sticking particular good."

In fact, I found myself marking the place of several great quotes:

Wisdom from Elijah's neighbor: "Mr. Leroy kept chomping and said, 'Fish eating's like anything else in life, Elijah. If you go at it 'specting something bad to happen, all you gunn do is draw that bad thing to you. You caint be timid 'bout nothing you do, you got to go at it like you 'specting good things to come out of it. If I's to worry 'bout bones choking me, it'd happen every time I et fish. Ain't nothing further from my mind.' Fish bones snapped in his mouth like dry twigs."

Wisdom from Elijah's Ma when comforting a neighbor who just found out that her husband had died: "Well, the body don't never endure, do it? But I hopes . . . naw, I knows that something inside all of us be so strong it caint be stopped. It fly on forever."

Wisdom from Elijah's Pa when they found out Mr. Leroy was conned out of a huge sum of money that was meant to buy his family out of slavery: "Let this here be a lesson to you. You caint let your wantings blind you to what's the truth. You always got to look at things the way they is, not the way you wish 'em to be."

I can see why Elijah of Buxton won so many awards, and I'm definitely not sorry I read it! But because of the issues mentioned above, I really can't give it more than three stars.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Snorkle Yes, that's how I felt. I loved the use of language and Elijah's crazy/hilarious thoughts. I wanted to give it a higher rating, but it didn't have an amazing story-line and I wasn't completely enthralled with it. I loved the characters, but I do agree that the bookflap was a little misleading.


Luann Thanks, Snorkle! I look forward to reading your review.


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