Curtis, Christopher Paul. The Madman of Piney Woods
September 30th 2014
by Scholastic Press
ARC from Baker and Taylor
In this companion to Elijah of Buxton, we meet Benji and Red, two boys who live near the town of Buxton, Ontario, in 1901. Benji has twin siblings who are very good with wood and build a beautiful treehouse that makes him so jealous he destroys it, and he also wants to be a newspaper reporter. Red lives with his father and cantakerous Irish grandmother who hates just about everyone and competes in a speech event in the Upper Canada Forensics Competition. The two meet and become friends, and start to hang out in the woods together. There, they run into the mythical Madman of Piney Woods, and realize that there are some secrets about the injured man that tie both of them to him. The boys learn many lessons about compassion, friendship, and family ties.
Strengths: This covers an underserved point and place in history, and adds some more to the story in Elijah of Buxton, although the cover is a vast improvement on that book! I know that Curtis' books are frequently used in the classroom, and my niece was excited to get the ARC when I finished.
Weaknesses: There wasn't any real "hook" in the story, and it went on for much too long about the treehouse. Felt a bit slow, and I kept waiting for something to happen.