Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Book Review: The Madman of Piney Woods

Christopher Paul Curtis provides a wealth of literature that connects historical fiction with fact.

THE MADMAN OF PINEY WOODS by Christopher Paul Curtis is an outstanding followup to the award-winning ELIJAH OF BUXTON. While both are set in Ontario Canada, Curtis’ latest work of historical fiction takes place in 1901 forty years after the first novel. The story follows two children one African Canadian and the other Irish Canadian living in nearby towns. After a chance encounter, the boys become friends and ultimately connect with the mysterious man living in the woods.

Like ELIJAH OF BUXTON, Curtis’ latest work weaves together a series of short adventures connecting the themes of friendship and family. Humor is used to bring these anecdotes to life for readers, while elements of intrigue keep readers engaged.

Although the two books can be read separately, youth will have a more rounded experience by reading both books while exploring the history of the area. The region is known for it’s involvement in the Underground Railroad and abolitionist movement of the early and mid 19th century. Also during this time period, many immigrants arrived from Ireland to escape the Potato Famine. This history lays the foundation for this turn-of-the-century story.

The areas of Buxton and Chatham Ontario play an important role in this story. Use Google Maps to visit this area online. Find the Buxton National Historic Site. Visit their virtual exhibits at

To learn more, explore the Scholastic Discussion guide at

Publisher ARC used for review