Author: Christopher Paul Curtis.
Eleven-year-old Elijah is the first child born into freedom in Buxton, Canada, a settlement of runaway slaves just over the border from Detroit. He’s best known for having made a memorable impression on Frederick Douglass, but that changes when a former slave steals money from Elijah’s friend, who has been saving to buy his family out of captivity in the South. Elijah embarks on a dangerous journey to America in pursuit of the thief and discovers firsthand the unimaginable horrors of the life his parents fled–a life from which he’ll always be free, if he can find the courage to get back home.
This is an excellent historical fiction in the juvenile section, and I should think older readers will also find it interesting. The child’s voice is consistent and believable, and because of the setting in a freed-men’s town, it manages to portray some of the treatment and horror of slaves without overwhelming the younger audience it is aimed at.
Sexual content: School-children misread a board that reads “familiarity breeds contempt” as saying “family breeding contest” which leads to some interesting speculation.
Language: 1 d***, 1 derogatory term
Violence: Man backhands a boy across the mouth. “That friend of his bust in holding onto two guns and set to pistol-whipping Massa Red”. Characters receive a letter telling them that a slave relative was whipped to death. One man shoots another but doesn’t kill him. Character knocks a dog out with thrown stones. Character finds slaves injured and tied up.