Book Review: Elijah of Buxton

by Melissa on January 4, 2010 · 0 comments

in 9-12, ATOS 5.0-5.9, Good book for boys, Historical Fiction, Lexile 1000-1099, Peoples & Cultures

Title:Elijah of Buxton
Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks
Author: Christopher Paul Curtis
Lexile: [?] 1070L
ATOS Level: [?] 5.4
Parent Rating:
VN:F [1.9.7_1111]
Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)
PAUSE For Ages: 9-12


In 1859, eleven-year-old Elijah, the first free-born child in Buxton, Canada, a haven for slaves fleeing the American South, uses his wits to try to bring to justice the lying preacher who has stolen money that was to be used to buy a family’s freedom.


This book is based on a town in Canada where American slaves would escape to. This book provides a good opportunity to talk to your child about this period in history, though some sensitive children may find it difficult to understand the idea of slavery. Not recommended for 9-10 year-olds to read on their own as they will likely have lots of questions. Also, the book is written with a lot of dialect that children may find difficult to read.  A good story that shows the struggle for freedom.  A good book for boys.


Level 1 (spelled out) [?]

Sexual Content

Boys misunderstand teacher’s ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ as ‘family breeding contest’. ‘You don’t need to work in a stable to know what breeding is’. Boys wait for teacher to get to the ‘real interesting, real nasty parts.” Mother asks 12 year-old girl ‘doesn’t she know what the Massa has in store for her?” what he is waiting for her to get old enough for?’




Adult asks boys to ‘put a bullet through my brain’ if he is bitten by a hoop snake (mythical). Adults have shotguns, guarding the children at school when it is thought that slave catchers are in the area. A slave’s mother threatens to ‘kill you myself’ if she doesn’t escape the next time she has the chance. Elijah is afraid he will be attacked by a big dog and knocks the dog out with a rock. Elijah holds a gun on a man and thinks ‘Having a gun in your hand when you knowed you were gonna use it to shoot a human person made it feel a whole lot different.’ A slave woman wants Elijah to give her his gun and he realizes that she intends to kill herself and her baby.


Elijah’s parents want him to quit being so ‘doggone fra-gile’. Adult has brand from when he was a slave, talk of treatment as a slave (beatings, being spit on, etc). In the midst of telling a story, Elijah starts to say the word ‘nig*er’, much to the horror of the adult he was speaking to. Kids play a game called ‘abolitionists and slavers.’


Several references to Bible stories, Satan, demons, wrestling your soul from you, blaspheming. A preacher has questionable character and is a thief.

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Book Review: Elijah of Buxton, 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating

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