The Madman of Piney Woods

A middle grade novel by Christopher Paul Curtis.

Christopher Paul Curtis

Set in Buxton, Ont., a settlement of runaway slaves, 40 years after the events of Elijah of Buxton, the story unfolds through Benji and Red's alternating first-person narratives. Through their eyes, we meet two different, yet equally damaged, individuals: an Irish immigrant woman whose journey to Canada proves as devastating as the famine she's escaping, and a Black Canadian soldier who barely survives the American Civil War only to find he no longer fits in back home.

As the boys discover that their elders have been forever scarred by their pasts, so do we readers come to understand more than we could learn from any history lesson. Here is a novel that will break your heart — and expand it, too. (From Scholastic)

From the book

There are only seven of the original thirteen settlers of Buxton living here, and they're different from the rest of us. And not just because they're tired and move slow.

Those who escaped from slavery have this way of always looking over their shoulders, and if you believe even half of their stories about the southern United States, that's easy to understand.

What I can't understand is why, after more than thirty-five years of being free, they can't seem to relax.There haven't been any slave catchers around here since Hector was a pup, and slavery was outlawed down in America after the rebs got whipped, so the old-timers really don't have anything to worry about. But even knowing that, the hardest thing for them to do is take an easy breath.

From The Madman of Piney Woods by Christopher Paul Curtis ©2014. Published by Scholastic.

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