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ELIJAH OF BUXTON

From the Buxton Chronicles series , Vol. 1

Eleven-year-old Elijah Freeman is known for two things: being the first child born free in Buxton, Canada, and throwing up on the great Frederick Douglass. It’s 1859, in Buxton, a settlement for slaves making it to freedom in Canada, a setting so thoroughly evoked, with characters so real, that readers will live the story, not just read it. This is not a zip-ahead-and-see-what-happens-next novel. It’s for settling into and savoring the rich, masterful storytelling, for getting to know Elijah, Cooter and the Preacher, for laughing at stories of hoop snakes, toady-frogs and fish-head chunking and crying when Leroy finally gets money to buy back his wife and children, but has the money stolen. Then Elijah journeys to America and risks his life to do what’s right. This is Curtis’s best novel yet, and no doubt many readers, young and old, will finish and say, “This is one of the best books I have ever read.” (author’s note) (Fiction. 9+)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-439-02344-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2007

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THUNDER ROLLING IN THE MOUNTAINS

Seen through the eyes of Chief Joseph's daughter, Sound of Running Feet, O'Dell's last novel (coauthored and completed after his death by his wife) recounts the circuitous, tragic journey of the Ne-mee-poo (Nez Perce) from their Oregon home to the Lapwai Reservation in Idaho. Wisely recognizing that there's no way to fight the entrenching whites, Chief Joseph counters calls to war from dissenting tribal leaders and agrees to lead his people on what becomes an epic ordeal. Attacked by settlers en route, they win some battles against the "Blue Coats,"but the decimated tribe makes it into Crow territory only to find that their former allies are in league with the Army. Heading for refuge with Sitting Bull in Canada, they're caught in a surprise attack that leaves no choice but surrender. Bringing this bleak historical episode to life in spare, supple prose that echoes Joseph's own dignified words, the authors offer a fascinating look at the heroism of ordinary people. While the strong-willed narrator, her father, and her brave betrothed at first seem larger than life, it is quickly apparent that they don't consider themselves as such; and though she wishes she could fight, the girl dutifully takes her place caring for the young and the infirm. The authors don't tone down war's violence; they simply present it with unembellished clarity that is certain to leave a lasting impression, ending on a memorable note of reconciliation. A fitting end to a distinguished career. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-395-59966-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1992

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BULL RUN

Using a montage of characters in the manner of Spoon River Anthology, a fine novelist and poet offers 60 vignettes from 16 contrasting individuals who describe experiences from Fort Sumter to Bull Run. Coming from both North and South in equal numbers, the narrators include a colonel and a general (the only historical figure here); a Mississippi slave who hopes the state of Virginia will offer a chance for her to escape her master and for a free black man who passes as white to join an Ohio regiment; a southern matriarch who prays for the survival of her daughters' husbands and a Minnesota Irish lass who, in the end, mourns the death of a brother who ran away to war to escape their abusive father; a fifer boy and a rough Arkansan who's in the cavalry because his passion is horses; a photojournalist; and an ironical coachman, who drives congressmen and their wives out from Washington to sip champagne and view the battle. Bringing a poet's skill to crafting a unique and believable voice for each, Fleischman selects telling incidents to reveal character and to evoke the early course of the war and its impact on ordinary people—some beginning with dreams of glory, all forced to endure the grim reality. He also suggests the possibility of staging the work or performing it as "readers' theater"—a demanding endeavor that could be well worth the effort. An unusual, compelling look at the meaning of war, the Civil War in particular. Maps and illustrations not seen. (Fiction. 10+)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 1993

ISBN: 0-06-021446-5

Page Count: 112

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1992

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