Benji and Red couldn't be more different. They aren't friends. They don't even live in the same town. But their fates are entwined. Read more...
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Benji and Red couldn't be more different. They aren't friends. They don't even live in the same town. But their fates are entwined. A chance meeting leads the boys to discover that they have more in common than meets the eye. Both of them have encountered a strange presence in the forest, watching them, tracking them. Could the Madman of Piney Woods be real?
In a tale brimming with intrigue and adventure, Christopher Paul Curtis returns to the vibrant world he brought to life in Elijah of Buxton. Here is another novel that will break your heart -- and expand it, too.
- ISBN-13: 9780545156646
- ISBN-10: 0545156645
- Publisher: Scholastic Press
- Publish Date: September 2014
- Page Count: 363
- Reading Level: Ages 10-13
- Dimensions: 8.5 x 6.1 x 1.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-07-07
- Reviewer: Staff
In 1901, Benji Alston lives in Buxton, Ont., a real-life town settled by abolitionists and runaway slaves (and the setting of Curtis’s Newbery Honor–winning Elijah of Buxton). Alvin “Red” Stockard, son of an Irish immigrant and a local judge, resides in nearby Chatham. The woods of the title connect the two towns, and both boys have grown up hearing cautionary tall tales about a wild boogeyman who lives there. Writing in his customary episodic style, Curtis relates their separate stories in alternating chapters, incorporating a large cast, his trademark humor and gritty hijinks, and the historical events that shaped the people and the area: slavery, the U.S. Civil War, and Irish immigration. It takes more than half the book for the boys—both 13—and their stories to connect, which may try the patience of some readers. Those who persist, though, will be rewarded with an update on what became of Elijah, the hero of the first book, as Curtis delivers an ending that ties together the two stories, set 40 years apart, in a poignant and powerful way. Ages 8–12. (Sept.)
Another adventure in Buxton
In this standalone companion to the Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Award-winning Elijah of Buxton, author Christopher Paul Curtis returns to the Canadian town founded in the 1860s by former African-American slaves. Although few of the original settlers still live in Buxton in 1901, one of their descendants, Benji Alston, stands out. An aspiring newspaper reporter, Benji understands the power of the written word and enters an apprenticeship with Miss Cary, the daughter of real-life Mary Ann Camberton Shadd, an abolitionist and journalist in neighboring Chatham. Also residing in Chatham is Alvin “Red” Stockard, who is often mistreated by his bitter and racist grandmother, who suffered during the Irish immigration to Canada during “The Great Hunger.”
Benji and Red alternate as narrators, incorporating historical details and fun antics from the first book. As they become fast friends, they realize they’ve both heard tales of the Madman of Piney Woods, who is rumored to be an escaped slave from the U.S. and may even be a potential murderer. When the boys face a shocking encounter with the Madman, each begins in his own way to understand the nature of fear and heroism. Countering heartbreak with humor, Curtis gives middle-grade readers another fine novel to ponder the wonders of humanity.