Book report: Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis

In my vacation review on Philadelphia I noted our family's enjoyment of Curtis's book, Bud, not Buddy, while we sat in Philadelphia's inadequate highways. When we got to the library again I thought I'd find what else Mr. Curtis has written. I picked up The Watsons go to Birmingham - 1963 and Elijah of Buxton. I enjoyed both. Curtis has reconnected with his inner 11 year old and writes in that voice extremely well.

The serendipitous joy for me was learning for the first time about Buxton from the movie Race to Freedom then coming across this novel about the first free born child from Buxton Ontario. A short history can be read here. Elijah is famous in Buxton for regurgitating on the famous abolitionist Frederick Douglass who held up baby Elijah in celebration of his free birth. Elijah has a dim-witted buddy named Cooter. He also has a novel ability to fish with damaged live flies and stones. There are many laugh out loud moments, as in the other books by Curtis. But there are also very poignant moments where the injustice of humans against humans is exposed in its awful brutality. The climax is not simple or easy, but right. It's a longish book that may keep those too young but not those too precocious from reading some of the tragedy of our history. I hope Curtis keeps his novels coming.


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