The Journey of Little Charlie

By: Christopher Paul Curtis

1854: 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. Author’s note.

ISBN: 9780545156660

JLG Release: Apr 2018


Sensitive Areas: Guns, Mild language, Discrimination, Violence, Realistic portrayal of slavery in 1850s America
Topics: Sharecroppers , Children of sharecroppers , South Carolina , Fugitive slaves , African Americans , Plantation owners , Slavery , Race relations , History of South Carolina, 1775–1865 , Nineteenth-century US history

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Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

Publishers Weekly*, School Library Journal*, The Horn Book Magazine

School Library Journal

[STARRED REVIEW]
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 ov
[STARRED REVIEW]
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 upbringing—Charlie lived in poverty, racism, and ignorance—a 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

Library Journal

Twelve-year-old narrator “Little Charlie” Bobo is already the size of a man, and when his South Carolina sharecropper father dies in a freak accident, the sheriff suspects Charlie. Charlie figures that’s just another example of the “luck of the Bobos,” and his luck gets even worse when the cruel white overseer of a nearby plantation insis Twelve-year-old narrator “Little Charlie” Bobo is already the size of a man, and when his South Carolina sharecropper father dies in a freak accident, the sheriff suspects Charlie. Charlie figures that’s just another example of the “luck of the Bobos,” and his luck gets even worse when the cruel white overseer of a nearby plantation insists on Charlie (who is also white) accompanying him to Detroit on a mysterious mission to retrieve “stolen property.” Charlie is observant but very naive, and it takes a while for him to realize why they are heading north. Narrator Crouch does an excellent job conveying Charlie’s speech (which can be challenging to read in the print version) along with the ugliness of the despicable Cap’n Buck. -Susan Dove Lempke, Horn Book

Book Details

ISBN

9780545156660

First Release

April 2018

Genre

Fic

Dewey Classification

Trim Size

Page Count

256

Accelerated Reader

Level 5.8; Points: 8;

Scholastic Reading Counts

Level 7.5; Points: 13;

Lexile

Level 960L

Format

Print Book

Edition

Hardcover edition

Publisher

Scholastic

Potentially Sensitive Areas

Guns, Mild language, Discrimination, Violence, Realistic portrayal of slavery in 1850s America

Topics

Sharecroppers, Children of sharecroppers, South Carolina, Fugitive slaves, African Americans, Plantation owners, Slavery, Race relations, History of South Carolina, 1775–1865, Nineteenth-century US history,

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Cover Art

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