The Madman of Piney Woods
CPC has hit it out of the park again! In this companion book to Newbery Honor Book Elijah of Buxton, Curtis takes us to the year 1901 in Buxton, Ontario, 40 years after the events of Elijah of Buxton and introduces us to Red and Benji. They are a couple of mischievous boys (one of them African-Canadian and one of them Irish-Canadian) who meet and become fast friends after they find that they and their families have many similarities. Red and Benji also have had separate encounters in the woods with the mysterious and legendary Madman of Piney Woods. Who is this guy? Is he an old escaped slave or convict? Why is he living in the woods?
This is beautiful storytelling that has you laughing and sobbing, sometimes on the same page. Though The Madman of Piney Woods stands alone, it will be even more satisfying if read after Elijah of Buxton.
As a side note, the author’s note at the end states the following: “Most of my books have been written in libraries, both public and school. Why? I really can’t say. I used to think it was because when I’m sitting in the library, there’s always a wealth of research material only a few steps away, but the Internet and laptop computers have made that a moot point. Now an author can write from anywhere and have all the knowledge of the web literally at his or her fingertips. The library, however, was my spot from day one and remains my go-to place.”
So, get yourself to the library and pick up a copy of this book or any of Christopher Paul Curtis' books. I guarantee you won't be disappointed. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for those 8-100.