Journey of Little Charlie
Journey of Little Charlie
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Annotation: When his poor sharecropper father is killed in an accident and leaves the family in debt, twelve-year-old Little Charlie agrees to accompany fearsome plantation overseer Cap'n Buck north in pursuit of people who have stolen from him; Cap'n Buck tells Little Charlie that his father's debt will be cleared when the fugitives are captured, which seems like a good deal until Little Charlie comes face-to-face with the people he is chasing.
Catalog Number: #178683
Format: Publisher's Hardcover (Large Print)
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Thorndike Press
Copyright Date: 2019
Edition Date: 2018
Pages: 269 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 1-432-86144-1
ISBN 13: 978-1-432-86144-5
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2018047753
Dimensions: 23 cm.
Language: English
Horn Book
In 1858 South Carolina, twelve-year-old Charlie Bobo must go north with a plantation overseer to find "thieves." When white, ignorant Charlie (a product of his circumstances) is forced to be complicit in the slave trade, he finds his conscience and does the right thing. While shorter than its Buxton Chronicles predecessors (Elijah of Buxton; The Madman of Piney Woods), this tale is just as powerful, masterfully intertwining humor and tragedy.
Publishers Weekly
Echoing themes found in Curtis-s Newbery Honor-winning Elijah of Buxton, this exceedingly tense novel set in 1858 provides a very different perspective on the business of catching runaway slaves. Eking out a living as South Carolina sharecroppers, the Bobo family knows hard luck. After 12-year-old Charlie-s father is killed in a freak accident, Charlie reluctantly agrees to pay off his father-s debt by accompanying a plantation overseer, the despicable Captain Buck, on a hunt for three runaways. Charlie-s journey takes him north to Detroit and Canada where black people and white people work and live peaceably together. Sickened by the dirty business of rounding up former enslaved men and women, Charlie hatches a risky scheme to steer them to safety. Curtis portrays Charlie as a product of his white Southern upbringing and values, skillfully conveying how his widening view of the world leads to a change in his thinking. Written in persuasive dialect and piloted by a hero who finds the courage to do what he knows is right, Curtis-s unsparing novel pulls no punches as it illuminates an ugly chapter of American history. Ages 9-12. (Jan.)

School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 58 Oversized like an ox, 12-year-old Charlie Bobo and his sharecropper parents eke out a living on the Tanner Plantation deep in South Carolina in 1858. When an accident takes his father's life, Charlie and his mother must settle a debt with the plantation's sadistic overseer, Cap'n Buck. The despicable overseer forces Charlie to accompany him to Detroit to retrieve $4,000 worth of stolen property. Charlie's journey covers more than miles as he finally realizes the stolen property isn't material but human. Outside his norm of Southern life, he sees his white privilege and the horrors of people claiming ownership of other people. It truly sickens him, but he feels trapped by his father's debt. Cap'n Buck and Charlie venture into Canada to capture their last fugitive slave: Sylvanus, a boy just Charlie's age. When he sees the similarities in their lives despite their different races, Charlie knows he cannot be party to the legal evil of slavery any longer ("I knowed Sylvanus and his ma and pa was gonna be slaves 'gain. And I knowed it would be my doings that caused it."). Charlie alters the course of his journey right then, changing his life forever. His choice shows that no matter one's upbringingCharlie lived in poverty, racism, and ignorancea person can choose right. Curtis's use of dialect lends the story authenticity, though it may slow down less confident readers. The violence of slavery is not shied away from and use of historically accurate, derogatory terms for black people are used. Young readers will benefit from discussion during and after reading. VERDICT A thought-provoking book from a master storyteller. Lisa Crandall, formerly at the Capital Area District Library, Holt, MI
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
Starred Review Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Word Count: 48,178
Reading Level: 5.8
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.8 / points: 8.0 / quiz: 193275 / grade: Middle Grades
Sweat was pouring out of every part of my body.

We'd been standing in the alley for the longest time afore the Cap'n finally said, "Don't turn now, that's her with the sack and the bonnet."

The Cap'n had me as a shield, ducking behind me so the woman couldn't see him. Soon's she walked on by the alley he give me a shove and I was on the sidewalk behind the woman.

Following the plan I run out in the street till I was ten yards past then turned to face her.

I said, "'Scuse me, Ma'am, do you know where..."

Both me and the woman gasped. I thought the Cap'n had made a mistake, 'cause whilst this woman did have a eye patch and a scar running 'crost her cheek, he hadn't said nothing 'bout her skin! She was colored!

How could a woman who didn't look no different than the slaves I'd seent 'round Possum Moan be the leader of a gang that robbed Mr. Tanner of four thousand dollars?

Excerpted from The Journey of Little Charlie by Christopher Paul Curtis
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Twelve-year-old Charlie is down on his luck: His sharecropper father just died and Cap'n Buck -- the most fearsome man in Possum Moan, South Carolina -- has come to collect a debt. Fearing for his life, Charlie strikes a deal with Cap'n Buck and agrees to track down some folks accused of stealing from the cap'n and his boss. It's not too bad of a bargain for Charlie... until he comes face-to-face with the fugitives and discovers their true identities. Torn between his guilty conscience and his survival instinct, Charlie needs to figure out his next move -- and soon. It's only a matter of time before Cap'n Buck catches on.

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