THE MADMAN OF PINEY WOODS by Christopher Paul Curtis
Kirkus Star

THE MADMAN OF PINEY WOODS

Age Range: 9 - 13

KIRKUS REVIEW

Forty years after Elijah Freeman’s exploits in Elijah of Buxton (2007), 13-year-olds Benji Alston and Red Stockard become friends as Curtis revisits Buxton, Ontario, in a fine companion novel.

Benji and Red don’t meet for 200 pages, their separate lives in 1901 related in alternating first-person narratives. Benji, an African-Canadian boy in Buxton, and Red, a white boy of Irish descent living in nearby Chatham, have fairly ordinary and free lives. Benji dreams of becoming the best newspaperman in North America; Red mostly wants to survive his crazy Grandmother O’Toole. Echoes of history underlie the tale: Benji lives in a community settled by former slaves; Red is the grandson of a woman haunted by the Irish Potato Famine and the horrors of coffin ships on the St. Lawrence River. Both boys know the legend of a mysterious creature in the woods, called the Madman of Piney Woods by Benji, the South Woods Lion Man by Red. And, indeed, this “madman” and his woods ultimately tie the whole story together in a poignant and life-affirming manner. Humor and tragedy are often intertwined, and readers will find themselves sobbing and chuckling, sometimes in the same scene. Though this story stands alone, it will be even more satisfying for those who have read Elijah of Buxton.

Beautiful storytelling as only Curtis can do it. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 30th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-545-15664-6
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Scholastic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2014




BEST MIDDLE-GRADE BOOKS OF 2014 THAT CELEBRATE DIVERSITY:

ChildrenLITTLE MAN by Elizabeth Mann
by Elizabeth Mann
ChildrenRAIN REIGN by Ann M. Martin
by Ann M. Martin
ChildrenTHE TURTLE OF OMAN by Naomi Shihab Nye
by Naomi Shihab Nye
ChildrenTHE RED PENCIL by Andrea Davis Pinkney
by Andrea Davis Pinkney

MORE BY CHRISTOPHER PAUL CURTIS

ChildrenTHE MIGHTY MISS MALONE by Christopher Paul Curtis
by Christopher Paul Curtis
ChildrenELIJAH OF BUXTON by Christopher Paul Curtis
by Christopher Paul Curtis
ChildrenMR. CHICKEE’S MESSY MISSION by Christopher Paul Curtis
by Christopher Paul Curtis

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

ChildrenSHOW WAY by Jacqueline Woodson
by Jacqueline Woodson
ChildrenTHE YEAR WE SAILED THE SUN by Theresa Nelson
by Theresa Nelson
ChildrenESCAPE FROM SLAVERY by Frederick Douglass
by Frederick Douglass