So, today I have a new book and a “classic” book. But they go together, so I didn’t feel I could do one without the other. And they’re both from one of my favorite authors.
So, the “classic” in this pair is Elijah of Buxton. In this story (set, I think, in the 1860s), Elijah is born free in Buxton, Canada, a community of freed slaves. When someone steals the money his best friend was saving to buy his family out of slavery, Elijah travels to the United States to try to catch the thief. On his journey, he learns exactly what his parents went through to get out of slavery.
The “new” book is The Madman of Piney Woods. It’s a companion book to Elijah, which means that it’s set in the same “world,” but you don’t need to have read the first to appreciate and enjoy the second (kind of like Chains and Forge). This is set in the same town as Elijah, but about 40 years later (and Elijah apparently has a small part). In this book Benji and Red are two very different boys, who really aren’t friends, but who have a lot in common. Most importantly, they’ve both had an experience with the Madman of Piney Woods and want to investigate more: Benji from a journalists’ perspective and Red from a scientist’s.
I haven’t read either book yet (although I did just download the audio for Elijah and requested the audio of Madman as I was writing this), but I have not doubt that they are AWESOME. Christopher Paul Curtis is one of my favorite writers and I have never been disappointed in any of his books. One review of Madman I read said that this is really a buddy story, similar to Tom Sawyer. And I can see where a comparison to Mark Twain would be totally on the mark. Curtis writes believable, relatable, funny characters.