Eleven year-old Elijah lives in Buxton, Canada in the 1850s. Buxton is a town made up entirely of runaway slaves that have escaped from America on the Underground Railroad. Elijah’s parents are former slaves, but Elijah himself was born free in Buxton. He leads a school boy’s life keeping up with his lessons and doing chores alongside Mr. Leroy, a community handy man who is working hard to save up enough money to buy his family’s freedom. Elijah is well known in his town for being sensitive, quiet and easily moved to tears.
A devastating turn of events brings Elijah face to face with the fear and horror experienced by his parents and the former slaves in his town. A sneaky preacher steals Mr. Leroy’s money, and his dream of being reunited with his family. Elijah sets off after the thief in a desperate attempt to recover the money. The chase brings Elijah to America and the constant threat of being captured by slave bounty hunters. In one memorable scene Elijah stumbles across a group of slaves who have been re-captured. Shackled together in a barn the group is starving and thirsty. One of the slaves holds a baby out to him. Should he take the baby and run, or try to rescue the group? It is one of many heart wrenching scenes that shows the horrors of slavery. Elijah proves that being brave doesn’t mean not being scared, being brave means that even when you are scared out of your mind, you do what needs done anyway. Author: Christopher Paul Curtis
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- Listen to an Exerpt
- Watch a video interview with Christopher Paul Curtis
- Watch Mr. Curtis talk about Elijah of Buxton
- National Geographic: The Underground Raiload