Books: Fiction

The Journey of Little Charlie

Book — Fiction. By Christopher Paul Curtis. 2018. 256 pages.
A novel for young adults that that shows how slavery was state-sanctioned terrorism and the impact of the Fugitive Slave Law.

Time Periods: 1850
Themes: African American, Slavery and Resistance

Twelve-year-old Little Charlie is from a poor white family in South Carolina in 1858. In order to pay off his parents’ sharecropping debts, he works for a slave catcher. Christopher Paul Curtis paints a picture of the grinding, hopeless poverty of the white family and the unspeakable torture carried out against enslaved African Americans.

The richly written story is filled with tension as Charlie and the slave catcher head to Detroit to find and kidnap a Black family who escaped slavery. Without revealing the ending, this book is an extraordinary resource for making it clear that slavery was state-sanctioned terrorism, that Black families used every means imaginable to secure freedom for themselves and most of all for their children, and that the Fugitive Slave Law obligated all whites to take part.

The protagonists cross into Canada, introducing the impact of the Fugitive Slave Law on the Underground Railroad, life on the border of the two countries, and the role of abolitionists. [Description from Rethinking Schools.]

ISBN: 9780545156660 | Scholastic Press