The Newberry Medalist brings humor and heart to this story of a Civil War–era boy struggling to do right in the face of history’s cruelest evils.
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.
Praise for The Journey of Little Charlie
A National Book Award Finalist
“This is a compelling and ugly story for middle-grade readers told with genuine care. Little Charlie is a product of his Southern upbringing, yet in Curtis’s skillful hands he learns the world is not as he’d thought . . . Christopher Paul Curtis does it again.” —Historical Novel Society
“A characteristically lively and complex addition to the historical fiction of the era from Curtis.” —Kirkus Reviews
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.