Destinee Sutton's Reviews > The Journey of Little Charlie

The Journey of Little Charlie by Christopher Paul Curtis
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it was amazing
bookshelves: historical-fiction, slavery, middle-grade, tween
Read 2 times. Last read April 6, 2018 to April 11, 2018.

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 dramatic irony, too: (view spoiler)

As a poor white child of the South in the 1850s Little Charlie Bobo is the unlikely narrator of a book about slavery and Buxton, Ontario. What does Little Charlie really know about slavery? Why did the author choose to tell this story through Little Charlie? In the afterward, CPC says he originally intended to tell the story by alternating between Little Charlie and another character, Sylvanus Demarest, but somehow Little Charlie Bobo took over.

If readers can get the hang of the Southern dialect with phonetic spelling (e.g. apocky-lips) it will be worth the effort. This is a great yarn with a truly horrible villain, high stakes, and an unlikely hero. Be warned there's a lot of violence mentioned in the pages. Be warned that this is historical fiction that doesn't much sugarcoat the racist language and ideas of the time.

I really liked the anecdote about the Hamburg bridge collapsing and some of the crew using the opportunity to fake their deaths and start over -- a second chance.

Only trouble with that is all you end up doing is building that same old life back again. You jus' a actor moving on to another performance. You might get a different group of characters, a different set, but in the end you's starring in the same old stinking play.

One morning you gonna wake up and wonder who was the lucky ones, them that went down with the train and was snuffed out quick, or them that lived on and was having to get their train wreck played out slow over years and years.


It sounds bleak, but it effectively makes its point. The story certainly has an impact on Little Charlie Bobo.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
April 6, 2018 – Started Reading
April 6, 2018 – Shelved
April 11, 2018 – Finished Reading
April 14, 2018 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
April 14, 2018 – Shelved as: slavery
April 14, 2018 – Shelved as: middle-grade
April 14, 2018 – Shelved as: tween

Comments Showing 1-1 of 1 (1 new)

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Jordan Henrichs Your examples of irony are great! I like that perspective. Good review.


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