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The Journey of Little Charlie

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  1,711 ratings  ·  403 reviews
Newbery Medalist Christopher Paul Curtis brings his trademark humor and heart to the story of a boy struggling to do right in the face of history's cruelest evils.
The National Book Award finalist by Christopher Paul Curtis!

Twelve-year-old Charlie is down on his luck: His sharecropper father just died and Cap'n Buck -- the most fearsome man in Possum Moan, South Carolina --
Published January 30th 2018
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Hannah ♥️ They probably have it at your local library or bookstore...

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 ·  1,711 ratings  ·  403 reviews

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Hannah Greendale
It is, and will ever remain, a great mystery why this book didn’t win the 2018 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. The Journey of Little Charlie reads like a middle-grade version of The Underground Railroad, as told from the perspective of a twelve-year-old boy forced to accompany a brutish slave catcher.

Due to advanced diction and an authentic first-person voice, would recommend this for book advanced readers or upper middle-graders (ages 10 to 14).
“You needs to be more like
I don’t know Christopher Paul Curtis personally, but if I had to harbor a guess I’d say he’s the type of author that doesn’t like to make things too easy for himself. That’s one of my theories. Another is that he’s a writer that, as a rule, listens to his creations. Folks say that when you write, your characters have a tendency to take on a life of their own. You might try to get them to go one way and they’ll just peel off and go another without so much as a bye-your-leave. A character, a good ...more
Monica Edinger
Mar 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I am on the record as being a huge fan of Curtis's Buxton books --from Elijah of Buxton (was on the Newbery Committee that gave it an honor) to Madman of Piney Woods (my starred Horn Book review). This one is as terrific as the others.

While the other two books featured black male protagonists in this one Curtis is featuring a young white male, the child of poor white pre-Civil War sharecroppers. After horrific events that leave him without family, Little Charlie Bobo (actually a twelve-year-old
Brenda Kahn
Yeah, yeah, yeah, dialect. Get over it! It's Christopher Paul Curtis! You can't miss this one. It might be his best yet. Challenge yourself as a reader and encourage your students to do so as well. This is a hard read with some hard truths and one that needs telling. So read it, share it, discuss it. If you absolutely can't take struggling with the dialect, find the audiobook. I cannot wait to reread this with my ears. It's narrated by one of my favorite narrators.

3/17/19 ETA: Just finished the
May 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was an amazing book. Little Charlie travels from South Carolina to Detroit and into Canada with a slave catcher, and learns to reject that part of his heritage, and realize that slaves and former slaves are as human as he is. Despite the serious topic, and the tense and exciting scenes, the book is very funny! Written in dialect I found myself thinking in dialect after I had been reading for a while.
Leonard Kim
Feb 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If Curtis, a great writer, could be said to have a flaw, I would say it is plotting. It is ironic that it is in this book that he admits in his author’s note that he doesn’t outline his novels ahead of time, even though he recommends it as good practice. Knowing that explains some of the structural quirks of his previous books. The reason I say it’s ironic is because after the first chapter, this book does have a strong, straightforward plot, and combining that with his usual gifts, I think it m ...more
Apr 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Oh Christopher Paul Curtis, can you do no wrong? Perhaps, but I didn't find any in this book! I was gripped right from the beginning by Charlie's voice. In my uneducated opinion, Curtis nails the dialect from the first sentence. What would this book be without Charlie's narration in his dialect? It would still be good, but the dialect develops the character even more than his actions do, and is one of the best things about the book. It is gives the reader a fuller picture of Charlie's way of vie ...more
Laura Harrison
Mar 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
I was so sure I would love this book. I am a huge Christopher Paul Curtis fan. The Journey of Little Charlie was disappointing to say the least. Even the cover art is misleading. It gives you the impression that it is about two boys who are traveling together. They do at the very end. Maybe 4 pages worth. Traveling is an overstatement. Mostly they are on a train together. The book was not a fun read. I doubt children will enjoy it. There is sadness and abuse or at least the threat of it througho ...more
Joanne Kelleher
May 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Cap'n Buck, the antagonist of this story, was the most despicable, amoral, ignorant character that I have ever come across in a middle grade book. The saddest part is that he is representative of real slave-catchers who were just as brutal, if not more so.
I listened to the audio book (which helped with the dialect) and at times I had to stop listening because the events were so upsetting.
The second half of the book was a bit easier to handle than the first half, especially as Charlie begins to t
Destinee Sutton
You can use this book to teach kids the meaning of irony. There is nothing little about Little Charlie. He is literally a very big kid at 12 years old and over six feet tall. He is very intelligent even though he doesn't know how to read. He is brave and defiant even though for most of this story he follows orders. He may not know a lot about the world (he's hardly been outisde Possum Moan, South Carolina) but he seems to carry more wisdom than many of the adults around him. There's some classic ...more
Erica Deb
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
2.5. There’s a lot I really didn’t like about this book, mainly that it was written in southern speak, which I can’t stand and as a child, of the reading age this book is geared towards, I found impossible to get through. I know there is a point to this style and it is a learning experience for kids, but it is one that I disagree with. I think kids should have a better handle on reading before struggling through this type of writing.
The book was also graphic and disturbing, which does a good jo
Jul 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Off the charts. Amazing. Read in one sitting. Deserving of every starred review and accolade. Second reading for our Mother/Daughter Book Group. I didn't remember the violence but it was an integral part of the story. This is why we read. To learn about times and places that we could never imagine. A triumphant story of growth for Little Charlie.
Richie Partington
Aug 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Richie’s Picks: THE JOURNEY OF LITTLE CHARLIE by Christopher Paul Curtis, Scholastic Press, January 2018, 256p., ISBN: 978-0-545-15666-0

“Oligarch…(especially in Russia) a very rich business leader with a great deal of political influence”

“Time moves different when something you ain’t ‘specting to happen goes ‘head on and happens anyhow. I seent where time goes from moving at the reg’lar schedule to when it slides ‘long on grease locomotive rails. I also seent where it slows right on down, like i
Jordan Henrichs
Mar 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
The seemingly authentic dialect is thick and tough to slog through at times. As usual with Curtis, the period details feel spot on. For the most part, the story moves along at a swift pace although the subject matter was difficult to stomach for me.
Barb Middleton
I listened to the audiobook and didn't realize this was written in a southern dialect. No problems here understanding Little Charlie's southern accent by an excellent narrator. Little Charlie is from a poor white sharecropper family in the 1800s and at 6 feet two inches he is anything but little. The nuanced characters come alive making this tale hard to put down. Little Charlie is a flawed character that changes from his experience into a better person. The exploration of prejudice, racism, vio ...more
Phil Jensen
Jan 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Christopher Paul Curtis has lost his mind.

Time moves different when something you ain't 'specting to happen goes 'head on and happens anyhow. I seent where time goes from moving at the reg'lar pace to when it slides 'long on greased locomotive rails. I also seent where it slows right on down, like it's fighting its way through a big invisible jug of molasses. (p. 11)

How many children are prepared for this mix of dialect, figurative language and unreliable narration? I'm guessing about 50% of ei
The Reading Countess
Five stars. Three words. Christopher Paul Curtis.

I've read aloud Bud, Not Buddy too many times to count to too many fourth and fifth graders throughout my career, and I am always amazed at the nuanced writing-the humor, the mirror held up to the social injustices suffered and the humanity he is able to paint in such broad strokes. I've also read his The Mighty Miss Malone and The Watsons Go to Birmingham, the latter being a required novel in the grade above my level at my school. Curtis is good
Feb 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was an easy read as far as interest level goes. This story drew me in immediately. However, the content was not as easy to read. It tells the true horror of slave-catching and the dangers that lurk with them. It brought in some history I was not quite aware of, but makes sense. If you were an escaped slaves, the northern states didn't necessarily support your freedom. You had to carry documents showing you were a freed slave, which made the escape to Canada so much more important to escaped ...more
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooks
Wonderful audio rendition of Curtis's newest historical fiction.
I reread this in order to facilitate a 5th grade Newbery discussion group. The cruelty of slavery and slave catchers is heavy stuff for 10-year-olds, but the kids were fascinated and appalled. Curtis's dialect dialog was as challenging as the subject matter, but they persevered and liked it. I can't wait to see how the second group of kids to read it will respond.
Katie Fitzgerald
Jan 27, 2018 marked it as did-not-finish
I have always said I would gladly read anything by Christopher Paul Curtis, but the dialect in this book is just too much of a stumbling block for me and I decided to abandon the ARC after the first chapter. Reading dialect feels very tedious to me, and trying to read it aloud just made me sound foolish. I will consider revisiting the story as an audiobook in the future.
Aug 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical, juvenile
A wonderful novel. Highly recommended if you enjoy historical fiction. I recommend the audiobook because of the southern dialect. This will probably win some awards. Thanks for the recommendation Kirsten!
Lorianna G
Christopher Paul Curtis continues his streak of Lori loving his books. I haven’t yet met one I didn’t like.
Brandy Painter
Jul 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

This book is about a share cropper's son who must travel with a slave catcher to Michigan in order to pay of a debt his father incurred before his tragic death. Charlie doesn't like the overseer he is indebted to and finds everything about their journey distasteful. I enjoyed this mostly because it is a glimpse into a part of this country's history we don't see much in children's books. There are many books that cover slavery, but not from the point of view of slave catchers. I was sort
Apr 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Christopher Paul Curtis is among the best of the best.. I wonder if kids will take to the 'slang' or language that is used... but once you get going in the story it doesn't matter.. another look into the cruelty and journey of slavery..
Dec 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2018
I struggle to evaluate books like this . . . it was of course excellent but I don’t know how I would be able to get a kid to read it. And I can’t really see a class using it because of the dialect.
Abby Turner
Oct 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I fell in love with little Charlie. He was trapped and then he was brave. The language was perfect. I’d like to listen to an audiobook. Really great read.
Abby Johnson
I mean, Christopher Paul Curtis! Historical (just before Civil War) fiction! You can't really go wrong.
Good luck never seems to be on the side of Little Charlie Bobo. After his father dies in a freak accident in the South Carolina woods, slave catcher Cap'n Buck comes calling with claims that the man owed him some money. The twelve-year-old and his mother have practically nothing, and his family has barely been squeaking by until the next harvest. Although they try to flee, Cap'n Buck outsmarts them, and Charlie is on his way to Detroit and then, later, to Canada, in order to bring back some thie ...more
Apr 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've always loved The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963. It's a book that'll make you feel a lot of feelings: I laughed, I cried, I was outraged, and ashamed. I felt all those feelings in this Christopher Paul Curtis book as well, only zoom in and magnify the feelings of shame and outrage. This book will be a hard read aloud for kids, but it is one of the best books I've read this year, period. It's like Huckleberry Finn.

Charlies Bobo's family are poor sharecroppers with no education. Charlie and

Josephine Sorrell
Mar 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: newbery-2019

Little Charlie Bono is the son of a white sharecropper. Through a twisted round of fate, he finds himself on a mission to recapture a family that has escaped slavery in the north. The mission takes him from his South Carolina home into Canada.

A few weeks after the death of Little Charlie Bobo’s father, Cap’n Buck, the overseer of the plantation on which they farm, tells the 12-year-old and his ma that father, Charlie Bobo had taken a down payment on a job to recover lost property. In this way,
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Curtis was born in Flint, Michigan on May 10, 1953 to Dr. Herman Elmer Curtis, a chiropodist, and Leslie Jane Curtis, an educator. The city of Flint plays an important role in many of Curtis's books. One such example is Bucking the Sarge, which is about a fifteen year old boy named Luther T. Ferrel, who is in a running battle with his slum-lord mother. Curtis is an alumnus of the University of Mic ...more

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