Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 8 to 12
- Grade: 3 to 7
Newbery Medalist Christopher Paul Curtis brings his trademark humor and heart to the story, told in alternating chapters, of two very different boys who join forces to uncover a mystery in the woods.
Benji and Red couldn't be more different. They aren't friends. They don't even live in the same town. But their fates are entwined. A chance meeting leads the boys to discover that they have more in common than meets the eye. Both of them have encountered a strange presence in the forest, watching them, tracking them. Could the Madman of Piney Woods be real? In a tale brimming with intrigue and adventure, Christopher Paul Curtis returns to the vibrant world he brought to life in Elijah of Buxton. Here is another novel that will break your heart -- and fill it with joy and laughter, too.
About the author
Christopher Paul Curtis was born and reared in Flint, Michigan. After high school graduation, he worked on the assembly line of the Fisher Body Plant/Flint Plant No. 1 and graduated from the Flint branch of the University of Michigan. His first book, The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963, received a Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Honor book citation in 1996, and Bud, Not Buddy received the Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Award in 2000.
His 2007 book Elijah of Buxton won a Newbery Honor, the Coretta Scott King Author Award, and the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction in 2008. "This novel came to me in a way that was far different than any other," states Curtis. "From the word 'go' Elijah and I became close friends. When I'd go to the library to write, it was as if he were anxiously waiting for me, waiting to tell about his life, his worries, his adventues."
Christopher Paul Curtis lives with his wife and two children in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.
- Short-listed, OLA Silver Birch Award, Fiction
Excerpt: The Madman of Piney Woods (by (author) Christopher Paul Curtis)
From THE MADMAN OF PINEY WOODSAs a cold shiver ran through my body and heat flushed through my face, I quickly lost my courage. Knocking over the chair I was going to sit in, I ran toward the kitchen and shouted, "Oh, Benji! Please! For the love of God, run!"I can only imagine the confused look that must have come to Father's face when Benji hollered over his shoulder, "Thank you very much for having me over for supper, sir, the conversation was stimulating, your company was exhilarating, and that was one of the finest meals I've ever had!" Benji jostled past me as we ran through the kitchen and spilled out onto the back porch."Keep running!" I yelled.Three blocks from home, I grabbed the back of Benji's jacket and pulled him to a stop. I leaned over, put my hands on my knees, and gasped, "I'm fairly certain we're safe. I don't think she can run this far.""You don't think who can run this far? Who are we running from?""Grandmother O'Toole!""Your grandmother? We're running like this from your grandmother?"
"Curtis deftly makes what might have been simply heart-rending hopeful and redeeming instead... a pleasure to read." -- New York Times Book Review* "A delight, featuring the author's obvious love for his characters, his skillful use of sentiment, and his often hyperbolic humor... quintessential Curtis." -- Booklist, starred review* "A journey of revelation and insight... profoundly moving yet also at times very funny." -- Horn Book Magazine, starred review* "Beautiful storytelling as only Curtis can do it." -- Kirkus Reviews, starred review* "Curtis masterfully interweaves goofy family vignettes, memorable characters, and thought-provoking themes into a page-turner with appeal to multiple audiences and tastes." -- Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, starred review"Poignant and powerful." -- Publishers Weekly