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The Journey of Little Charlie

por Christopher Paul Curtis

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3691370,422 (3.96)1
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.… (mais)
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You can use this book to teach kids the meaning of irony. There is nothing little about Little Charlie. He is literally a very big kid at 12 years old and over six feet tall. He is very intelligent even though he doesn't know how to read. He is brave and defiant even though for most of this story he follows orders. He may not know a lot about the world (he's hardly been outisde Possum Moan, South Carolina) but he seems to carry more wisdom than many of the adults around him. There's some classic dramatic irony, too: Charlie goes along with Cap'n Buck because Buck threatens to kill Charlie's mother, but careful readers know from Chapter 8 that Charlie is already an orphan.

As a poor white child of the South in the 1850s Little Charlie Bobo is the unlikely narrator of a book about slavery and Buxton, Ontario. What does Little Charlie really know about slavery? Why did the author choose to tell this story through Little Charlie? In the afterward, CPC says he originally intended to tell the story by alternating between Little Charlie and another character, Sylvanus Demarest, but somehow Little Charlie Bobo took over.

If readers can get the hang of the Southern dialect with phonetic spelling (e.g. apocky-lips) it will be worth the effort. This is a great yarn with a truly horrible villain, high stakes, and an unlikely hero. Be warned there's a lot of violence mentioned in the pages. Be warned that this is historical fiction that doesn't much sugarcoat the racist language and ideas of the time.

I really liked the anecdote about the Hamburg bridge collapsing and some of the crew using the opportunity to fake their deaths and start over -- a second chance.

Only trouble with that is all you end up doing is building that same old life back again. You jus' a actor moving on to another performance. You might get a different group of characters, a different set, but in the end you's starring in the same old stinking play.

One morning you gonna wake up and wonder who was the lucky ones, them that went down with the train and was snuffed out quick, or them that lived on and was having to get their train wreck played out slow over years and years.

It sounds bleak, but it effectively makes its point. The story certainly has an impact on Little Charlie Bobo. ( )
  LibrarianDest | Jan 3, 2024 |
Charlie lives in Possum Creek, South Carolina. Poor, sensitive and one who witnessed way too much nastiness in his twelve years. his choices are limited. The story begins with the death of his father. Christopher Paul Curtis is one of my favorite young adult authors. He clearly writes about American history, and the overwhelming travesty of slavery.

In this story, Charlie's father's body is delivered to him by Captain Buck, the most cruel slave catcher and fearsome, ugly, nasty man in Possum Creek. He brings the body telling Charlie and his mother that a debt is due. The amount is way beyond any means they have of paying.

Charlie agrees to go with Captain Buck on a journey to Canada to retrieve money due, and to track down other people who also owe the Captain and his boss, the owner of many slaves and lots of property to farm.

Charlie sees much more than he imagined. As a white young man, he knows poverty, and when he travels with Captain Buck, he learns the sheer wrongness of slavery and the way in which it holds a family their entire life.

Incredibly well written, the author depicts a young sad man who has no idea what he will experience. Seeing the nastiness and evil in Buck's heart, he has a decision to make. And, what he witnesses and experiences at the hands of a white man who feels superior in every way and treats those of a different color in the most vile ways possible.

Charlie meets those accused of stealing, and attempting to flee. His life is forever changed by the decision he must make to help others and himself.

Once again, the author uses the community of Buxton, Canada as the backdrop of this book, and others previously read.

FYI, Charlie is a white young man.

If interested, here is information regarding Buxton, which became a safe haven for those slaves daring to escape and change the yoke they were born into. ( )
  Whisper1 | Aug 27, 2022 |
On the whole, a great book. The dialect is a little hard to follow when you start out, but gets easier as time goes on. I was surprised that the main character is white, but I liked where the story went. This is my second slave-catcher book in a week, and I have to say that is rough -- it's horrifying and appalling and a terrible time in our history, but then so many times are. Makes me wish I was Canadian, at least where American slavery is concerned. ( )
  jennybeast | Apr 14, 2022 |
children's middlegrade historical fiction (almost-13-y.o. poor white boy from sharecropper family is forced to help a bounty/slave-hunter).
I like the vernacular speech; CPC always does a great job with making his characters feel real. It can be harder for some readers to read/understand, but kids who read a lot should be able to pick it up easily, and will probably find it fun. Language notes: there is at least one "crap" in here, but no n-words (the racist white characters refer to black people as "darkies" instead; there are also lots of whites who treat black people as their equals). There are some gruesome deaths and acts of violence (murders and maulings) mentioned here that put this book clearly into the territory of older kids (middlegrade and up).

I feel like there could've been more to the story in terms of Charlie losing his mom (finding out that she's been murdered doesn't really come with a lot of shock, denial, anger, or grief) but overall it's a good historical fiction adventure with great characters. ( )
  reader1009 | Jul 3, 2021 |
"Little" Charlie is a 12 year-old son of a sharecropper. When his father dies, he is held responsible for his father's debt and has to accompany Cap'n Buck on a journey to hunt down people who are accused of stealing. Charlie has no idea what the trip will really be like for him. When he sees the people they are searching for face-to-face his thoughts and feelings all change. Charlie has to make some tough decisions when he learns more about the people they are chasing.
  mweinmeister | Jul 21, 2020 |
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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.

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