Cover image for The madman of Piney Woods
The madman of Piney Woods
Curtis, Christopher Paul, author.
Publication Information:
New York : Random House/Listening Library, [2014]
Physical Description:
8 audio discs (9 hr., 1 min.) : CD audio, digital ; 4 3/4 in.
Even though it is now 1901, the people of Buxton, Canada (originally a settlement of runaway slaves) and Chatham, Canada are still haunted by two events of half a century before--the American Civil War, and the Irish potato famine, and the lasting damage those events caused to the survivors.
General Note:
Title from web page.

Compact discs.

Companion book to: Elijah of Buxton.
Reading Level:

Format :
Audiobook on CD


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
J FICTION CD Juvenile Audiobook on CD Audiobooks
J FICTION CD Juvenile Audiobook on CD Audiobooks
J FICTION CD Juvenile Audiobook on CD Audiobooks
J FICTION CD Juvenile Audiobook on CD Audiobooks

On Order



Bestselling Newbery Medalist Christopher Paul Curtis delivers a powerful companion to his multiple award-winning ELIJAH OF BUXTON.

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 expand it, too.

Author Notes

Newbery Medal-winning children's book author Christopher Paul Curtis was born in Flint, Michigan on May 10, 1953 and graduated from The University of Michigan. While there he won the Avery and Jules Hopwood Prizes for poetry and a draft of one of his early books. Curtis spent thirteen years on an assembly line hanging car doors.

His story The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963 received a Newbery Honor and a Coretta Scott King Honor, and Bud, Not Buddy became the first novel to win both of these awards. Elijah of Buxton received the 2008 Scott O'Dell Historical Fiction Award, the Coretta Scott King Award, and a Newbery Honor. Curtis also won the 2009 Anne V. Zarrow Award for Young Readers' Literature.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* The year is 1901 in this companion volume to Curtis' Newbery Honor winner Elijah of Buxton (2007). The coprotagonists are African Canadian Benji of Buxton and Irish Canadian Red of nearby Chatham. Each brief chapter alternates between the two as readers learn that Benji longs to be a journalist, and Red, a scientist. At first, they seem to have little in common except their respective encounters with a strange, frightening hermit known to Benji as the Madman of Piney Woods and known to Red as the South Woods Lion Man. Call him what you will, he becomes a large presence in the book when the two boys finally meet almost 200 pages into the story and quickly become fast friends. Another large presence is Red's termagant grandmother, who despises black Canadians and from whom Red keeps his new friendship with Benji a secret. The grandmother is a vehicle for Curtis to examine the terrible experiences of early Irish immigrants to Canada, experiences that are not unlike those of blacks in America. Though sometimes overly discursive, the novel is otherwise a delight, featuring the author's obvious love for his characters, his skillful use of sentiment, and his often hyperbolic humor Benji's laboring to reconstruct his younger siblings' tree house upside down (you have to be there) is priceless. It is, in short, quintessential Curtis, sure to please his legions of fans and to cultivate new ones.--Cart, Michael Copyright 2010 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

In 1901, Benji Alston lives in Buxton, Ont., a real-life town settled by abolitionists and runaway slaves (and the setting of Curtis's Newbery Honor-winning Elijah of Buxton). Alvin "Red" Stockard, son of an Irish immigrant and a local judge, resides in nearby Chatham. The woods of the title connect the two towns, and both boys have grown up hearing cautionary tall tales about a wild boogeyman who lives there. Writing in his customary episodic style, Curtis relates their separate stories in alternating chapters, incorporating a large cast, his trademark humor and gritty hijinks, and the historical events that shaped the people and the area: slavery, the U.S. Civil War, and Irish immigration. It takes more than half the book for the boys-both 13-and their stories to connect, which may try the patience of some readers. Those who persist, though, will be rewarded with an update on what became of Elijah, the hero of the first book, as Curtis delivers an ending that ties together the two stories, set 40 years apart, in a poignant and powerful way. Ages 8-12. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-6-This companion novel to Elijah of Buxton (Scholastic, 2007), set 40 years after its conclusion, is a powerful testimony to the joys of friendship and the cost of unresolved hatred. The lingering effects of prejudice and unbelievable hardship weigh heavily in the lives of Benji, the descendant of American slaves, and Red, the grandson of an Irish immigrant to Canada. A chance meeting at a forensics competition brings these two different boys together; their initial conversation, in which they talk about their physical differences, is awkwardly charming and sincere. Although their communities are different, they have both grown up with the legend of a crazed former slave, a hermit called "The Madman of Piney Woods." Their friendship is complicated by the fact that Red's grandmother is extremely racist and fearful. The strong father-son relationship between Red and his father is tenderly and honestly created. Relationships between family and friends are realistically complicated, changing, and complex. The horror of Ireland's potato famine, the "coffin ships" that carried Grandmother O'Toole to Canada, and the prejudice faced by Irish-Canadians are brutally brought to life, as is the constant tension felt by the few remaining original settlers of Buxton. Although occasionally somber and heartbreaking, there is great humor, hope, and adventure from Benji and Red. The conclusion may be less powerful if readers are not familiar with Elijah, but it is stunning nonetheless. An author's note on the inspiration and creation of the story is included.-Jennifer Schultz, Fauquier County Public Library, Warrenton, VA (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



From THE MADMAN OF PINEY WOODS As a cold shiver ran through my body and heat flushed through my face, I quickly lost my courage and forgot all about leaping through the picture window. Even more shamefully, I also forgot about my heroic plan to grab Benji and escape with him. Knocking over the chair I had been pretending I was going to sit in, all I could manage to do was run toward the kitchen and shout, "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. "Don't listen to anything she says, she's very confused!" Three blocks from home, just outside of the funeral parlour 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 to him, "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!" "Who?" "My mother's mother." "Your grandmother? We're running like this from your grandmother?" Excerpted from The Madman of Piney Woods by Christopher Paul Curtis All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.