Elijah of Buxton

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Elijah of Buxton Novel Questions

Chapter 1

1. What does Cooter often look to solve?
a. Mysteries – p.1 There’s lots of things Cooter sees as mysterious that most folks understand easily.
2. The Preacher tells ‘Lijah and Cooter that they have tracked .
a. Hoop Snakes – p.4
3. What unusual items does the Preacher possess that most other men of religion do not?
a. pistol - p.7
4. What shortcoming of ‘Lijahs is his Ma trying to get him to over come?
a. Being Fragile – p.10
5. ‘Lija’s Ma is afraid of .
a. Toady frogs – p. 9
6. What does Ma count as the first time ‘Lijah ran off screaming in fear?
a. When she showed him a Snake – p.12
7. What does ‘Lijah do to teach Ma that she’s fragile too?
a. Puts a toad frog in the knitting basket - p.13
8. After the toad frog incident, how does Ma’s behavior surprise ‘Lijah?
a. She doesn’t say a word about it to ‘Lijah or give him a beating like Pa said. – p.17
9. How does Ma get ‘Lijah back for the toad frog incident?
a. She puts a snake in the cookie jar. – p. 19
Chapter 2

1. What tragedy was tied to ‘Lijah’s name that he will never live down?
a. Spitting up into Frederick Douglass’s beard and jacket – p.25
2. Who does ‘Lija consider to be the most famous and smartest man who ever escaped slavery?
a. Frederick Douglass
3. Who were the 3 special people to be honored in Buxton?
a. Frederick Douglass, John Brown, & Elijah – p. 24
4. Why was ‘Lijah being honored?
a. He was the first baby to be born free in Buxton – p.24
5. What does ‘Lijah learn from Ma that people who used to be slaves LOVE to do?
a. Prettying up (exaggerating) stories – p.25
6. One thing Ma wants ‘Lijah to learn about grown ups is….
a. You can’t believe everything they say – p.25
Chapter 3

1. How does “Lijah break his chores for Mr. Segee down?
a. Into working parts, first and enjoying parts, second – p. 29
2. What’s his favorite part of the enjoying part of his job?
a. Swatting horse flies off the mules so he can use them for fishing bait – p.30
3. How did “Lijah first find his fishing lake?
a. Flapjack took him there – p.35
4. Why does he favor riding mules over horses?
a. Horses shake you up too much and they’re high up off the ground if you fall. Mules rock you slow and easy and give you time to think. If you fall off a mule, you’re closer to the ground so you won’t get hurt. P. 35-36
5. What is ‘Lijah gifted at?
a. Throwing rocks – p. 40
6. How does he divide the lake?
a. Into fishing part and swimming part. – p.42
7. What’s unique about how he fishes?
a. He doesn’t use a fishing rod or reel. He drops flies in the water, throws rocks at the fish’s head to stun it, and scoops the fish up in his basket. – p.43 - 44
8. How does Flapjack help him?
a. He’s like a watch dog who warns him when something’s not right. P. 45
9. What does he do with the fish that he catches?
a. Takes some home for dinner, gives Mr. Leroy and Mr. Segee some, and trades some to Mrs. Brown for some of her baking. – p. 45-46
10. How does the Preacher teach ‘Lijah about tithing?
a. He tricks him into giving him 4 of his 10 fish since he’s a “servant” to the Lord. –p. 50-52

Chapter 4

1. What’s the Preacher promised ‘Lijah he can do but hasn’t followed through with?
a. Letting him fire his mystery pistol. – p. 53
2. What’s so out of character about the Preacher’s story about how he got his shiny pistol?
a. Usually he tells long exaggerated stories, but simply says he found the pistol in the woods instead. – p.54
3. Why were adults called in from the fields and the children let out of school early?
b. There was a report that slave catchers may be heading to Buxton to snatch people back in to slavery. P -58
4. What did ‘Lijah find roaming around in the middle of the night in his yard?
a. A lone white stallion without a rider – p.60
5. Why did they take the white stallion to Chatham instead of claiming for themselves?
a. They didn’t want anyone in Chatham to think they stole it. – p.62
6. What else was curious about the story the Preacher told about how he got the mystery pistol?
a. It’s highly unlikely to find a pistol AND a holster together. –p. 62

Chapter 5

1. Why does Mrs. Brown always wear black?
a. Her only child, a 2yr. old baby boy died. She says she won’t wear colors until she has another child.
2. In this chapter, it is further revealed what ‘Lijah does after everyone is asleep.
a. Walk through the woods – p. 66
3. What skill does Mrs. Brown possess?
a. She’s a fine baker. – p. 67
4. Who’s the last one in the settlement to quit working each day?
a. Mr. Leroy – cutting trees – p. 71
5. What is ironic about Ma calling Mrs. Holton an unfortunate soul?
a. Her husband got sick and was caught while they were escaping. She was the only one in the settlement who completely paid in cash for her 50 acres of land. P- 72
6. What are the Settlement rules for landowners?
a. No matter how much gold you have, you have to clear your own land and dig your own drainage ditch all the way around your land to the road. P-72
7. Why does Mr. Leroy do Mrs. Holton’s work?
a. She only has daughters so she pays him because he’s saving up money to buy his wife, daughter, and son out of America.
8. Why might Mrs. Highgate not be very fond of Mrs. Holton?
a. Everyone says Mrs. Holton’s house is sure to win the Most Beautiful Home in Buxton . Mrs. Highgate has won that in the past 5 yrs. – p.73

Chapter 6

1. What do Cooter and ‘Lijah deduct Mr. Travis’s lesson titled Familiarity Breeds Contempt will be about?
a. They think he’s going to start a Family Breeding Contest.- p.81-82
2. Why was Mr. Travis so upset with Cooter?
a. When Cooter saw Mr. Travis at the sawmill on Saturday, he did not treat him with the respect he was due. Cooter didn’t remove his hat, wait until Mr. Travis was finished speaking before he spoke to him, nor address him in the proper manner.- P 90

Chapter 7

1. Who really taught ‘Lijah the lesson of Contempt Breeds Familiarity?
a. Mr. Leroy – p. 102
2. What does Pa warn Elijah of when talking to people who used to be slaves?
a. They’ve seen and experienced some horrific things that freeborns have not. These things have left scars and made some folks peculiar. Therefore, they are more sensitive to some things that freeborns would not realize. - P. 101

Chapter 8

1. How does the Preacher talk Elijah into sneaking off to the Carnival with him even though he knows he’s not supposed to go?
a. By telling Elijah he would be helping the Settlement. – p. 103-106
2. What show does the Preacher take him to see first?
a. Madame Sabbar hitting targets with her sling shot – p. 108
3. Who is MaWee?
a. Jimmy Blassingame, a white boy from Chatham that used to be Elijah’s classmate. –p.112
4. Why was Jimmy crying at the end of the act?
a. She had shot a grape in his mouth, which choked him. A man had to squeeze him hard to get the grape out. -P.114

The Mesmerist and Sammy

What were the walking stick holding, straw hat wearing white men trying to get people to do?
· Pg 117 come see what was hid in their tents

What was on the poster that scared Elijah so much that he didn’t want to look at it?
· Page 118 a conjurer with yellow, jaggedy looking bolts coming out of his eyes

When Elijah and the preacher got inside the mesmerist tent, what did
he wish that he had brought with him?
· Page 120 rope around his ankle

Why did the boy tell Elijah to not tell anyone from Chatham that that was his name?
· Page 122 Elijah from Chatham made a boy change his name because he don’t want anyone to have a name that even starts like his

What did the boy do when the mesmerist looked at him with his 4 eyes?
· Page 124 stood upright and his face froze like stone

When the boy woke up from the spell, what did the mesmerist make it act like?
· Page 128 a chicken pecking and clucking on the stage

How did the mesmerist trick the boy into taking his clothes off?
· Page 130 he told him that he was at Lake Erie and it was hot and his mother didn’t want him to ruin his clothes

After they left the mesmerist show, what advice did the Preacher give Elijah about their visit to the next place?

· Page 133 `Don’t open your mouth unless you are spoken to

Meeting the Real MaWee

What was the Preacher humbled about when he introduced himself to the owner of the carnival?
· Page 135 never seen a carnival to match this one

What does the Preacher tell the carnival owner that Ahbo of the Chochotes
Can do ?
· Page 136 expert stone thrower and fisherman

Why did the boy tell Elijah that he wouldn’t like working at the carnival?
· Page 139 cleaning animal cages, getting beaten by the alligator man, cleaning clothes, getting hit in the face with grapes

Why doesn’t MaWee run away from Massa Charles?
· Page 140 where would he sleep, what would he eat

What did Ahbo have to do to prove that he was good at stone throwing?
· Page 143 shoot out all of the candles in Madame Sabbar’s tent

Describe the contest between Ahbo and Madame Sabbar.
· Madame used a slingshot to shoot the candles out, Ahbo won both times by shooting more candles out with his bare hand page 145

Explain how MaWee ended up in Buxton after he escaped.
· Page 150-152 Preacher came and took him at gunpoint from Massa Charles
· Tied him on a horse and brought him to Buxton Preacher left directions for them to come find him later

Why does MaWee feel like he is not free in Buxton?
· Page 152 has to go to school, people watching him like a sheriff

Emma Collins and Birdy

Why did Cooter act like he was strolling away when they spotted two folks hiding in the wood?
· Page 154 so they wouldn’t get spooked

What was the best way to welcome new folks to the settlement?
· Page 156 use the crying little brat, Emma Collins

What did Mr. Frederick Douglass say was the most hardest step to take to become free?
· Page 158 Finally crossing over from slavery into freedom

How did Emma Collins convince the slaves to come out of the woods?
· Page 159 walked slowly, picked flowers, held her doll, talked gentle

When the slaves came out into the open, they made a terrible noise. Why was Elijah afraid of their sounds?
· Page 162 didn’t sound like humans, wailing and moaning when they saw each other

What did the women do to keep their babies from crying when they were trying to escape slavery?
· Page 164 gave them tonic to sleep

Why didn’t Elijah like handkerchiefs?
· Page 166 thought carrying around a dirty cloth was nasty, so he used his shirt sleeve

Why did Emma give Birdy to the new little girl?
· Page 168 to welcome her to the settlement and to put her to ease

Why do they toll the Liberty Bell?
· Page 169 to let the settlement know that there are slaves entering the settlement that have made it to be free

The Secret Language of Being Growned

Where did the Liberty Bell come from and who gave it to them?
· Page 170 Pittsburgh- slaves gave it to them

Why do they ring the bell 20 times when someone is free?
· Page 171 10 times to ring out old lives and 10 times to ring in the free lives

What happens when the people hear the bell ringing?
· Page 172 gather at the schoolhouse and decide where the free people will stay

Why did Miss Duncan the first start asking the Taylors questions?
· Page 175 she recognized the woman as Alice

How did Miss Duncan the first convince Mr. Taylor that he knew his wife?
· Page 178 told him about a scar that was the shape of a sliver of the moon on her left shoulder and it runs down her chest

What relation is his wife to Miss Duncan the first?
· Page 178 her baby sister

Why doesn’t Miss Duncan want Mrs. Taylor to know who she is?
· Page 179 She has had enough hardships and she wants to figure out how to tell her

Why does Elijah think that grown ups don’t get riled up when they finally find their loved ones?
· Page 180 afraid to hear about all of the hard times and struggles while being a slave

Mail from America

What tricks did Old Flapjack due while taking Elijah to the post office?
· Page 182 through his front heels up and took off running

What happened to the old postman?
· Page 185 his horse three him and trampled on his head

How could Elijah tell that the package was going to be bad news?
· Page 187 letters were written with swirlingness and curleycues which meant that the letter was from a white person advising that someone was dead

Why was Elijah disappointed when Ma told him not to rile Mrs. Holton up when they went to visit her with the letter?
· Page 190 he felt that Ma hadn’t noticed that he had grown up some

Where did Mrs. Holton send her children when the company arrived?
· Page 193 outside to pick flowers

What was the news in the letter from America?
· Page 196 John had been captured and punished and he was killed and buried in Applewood

What does Mrs.Holton say would make her husband rest peaceful?
· Page 197 knowing that she and the family were free from slavery

What did Elijah’s Ma and Mrs. Holton find out they had in common?
· Page 187 both from the same state in America, and the plantation they worked on were close by each other

Why did Elijah feel proud as he and Ma were walking home from Mrs. Holton’s house?
· Page 200 Ma told him that she knew that he had growned up

Picnic at Lake Erie

Why didn’t Elijah like Reverend King’s sermons?
· Page 201 they were too long

Why were the children being ignored in the buckboard?
· Page 204 parents were talking in the front of the buckboard, they said things that they normally wouldn’t say in front of children

What story did Ma tell to the ladies?
· Page 206-211 Her Ma took her to Flint, Michigan so she could escape to Canada Ma instead ran after her mother and got a beating for not trying to escape alone without her

What game did the children play at the picnic?
· Page 212 abolitionists and slavers

What did Pa do with Ma’s peach pie?
· Page 212 buried it in the sand

What did Pa tell Elijah to do with the pie later?
· Page 213 dig it up and bury it deeper somewhere else

Keeping Mr. John Holton Alive

What did Mr. Leroy want Elijah to do at the sawmill?
· Page 215 read over the message that he was carving for Mrs. Holton

Why did it take Elijah so long to fix the words for Mrs. Holton?
· Page 216 he thought that her feelings were too bitter and he wanted the words to be just right

Why did Elijah take the inscription to Mr. Travis?
· Page 217 so he could fix the punctuation and spelling of some of the words

Why didn’t Elijah want to take money from Mrs. Holton?
· Page 218 he could hear his Ma and Pa telling him not to

What did Miss Emeline give Leroy for making the carving?
· Page 219 a box filled with $22,000 worth of gold to take and free his family from slavery

What does Leroy tell Miss Emeline he will do to pay her back?
· Page 220 work on her land he and his son will be at her beck in call


The Preacher Comes Through

Why did Mr. Leroy come to Pa to talk to him?
· Page 223 – 225 to tell him about the money that he received, and to ask for help to figure out how to get his family free

Why does Pa tell Leroy that he should wait for 3 – 4 months?
· Page 226 so he can contact the Underground Railroad for help

Leroy doesn’t want to wait. Why not?
· Page 228 he doesn’t feel good and he is afraid he doesn’t have that long to live

What plan does the preacher come up with?
· Page 228 Get John Jarvey in Michigan to help buy Leroy’s family and then take them to Michigan

What does the preacher offer to do for Leroy?
· Page 230 take the money to Mr. Jarvey and try to get Leroy’s family free

What does Pa warn Leroy about?
· Page 231 trusting the preacher with a lot of money tells him that he has a gun, and not sure if he can be trusted

What question did Leroy ask Elijah about the preacher?
· Page 234 You think he’d thief my money?

What deal does the preacher make with Leroy to prove that he can be trusted?
· Page 236 leaves his gun with him while he is gone

What does Pa feel uneasy about?
· Page 237 Preacher leaving to go get Leroy’s family free

Bad News from a Little Village in America

What bad news came from America five days after Preacher left?
· Mr. Highgate had been shot by Preacher (245)

Ma says, “ Believe some to none of what you hear and only .
· “half of what you see” (240)

What did the Preacher throw in the river?
· The fancy pistol (243)

What items did the Preacher have that were exactly the same?
· Two ivory handled pistols and holsters ( 243)

What tale about the Preacher did Mr. Highgate find to be true?
· The Preacher really did kill two white twins and took their fancy identical pistols (243)

What did Mr. Highgate try to stop the Preacher from doing?
· Gambling Mr. Leroy’s money (244)

Why couldn’t Mr. Highgate shoot the preacher?
· The preacher took the bullets out of Highgate’s gun (245)

Who is Benjamin Alston?
· The man who took care of Hghgate after he was shot (246)

Did Elijah think the Preacher aimed to kill Highgate? Explain.
· No, if he mean to blow his head oof, the Preacher would have done it (247)

When Pa told Mr. Leroy his money was gambled away, why did Elijah immediately run away?
· Elijah thought Mr. Leroy was going to kill him with his axe (249)


Who grabbed Elijah running through the woods?
· Pa (257)

What lesson did Pa say people should learn from Mr. Leroy and his money?
· “You can’t let your wanting blind you to what’s truth [look at things the way they is-not as you wish them to be]” (252).

Why did Elijah have to spend the night with Cooter?
· There was a town meeting and they were talking about grown things (252).

Why did Elijah originally tell Mrs. Bixby he had to go home?
· So he could eavesdrop on the town meeting (258)

A Ball Starts Rolling

Who “kidnapped” Elijah?
· Mr. Leroy (262)

What is Mr. Leroy’s plan?
· Go to Michigan, find money and the Preacher. If his money is all gone, kill Preacher (262-63).

Why did Mr. Leroy need Elijah to go to Michigan with him?
· Elijah can read and speak properly (263)

What does Elijah fear might happen to them in Michigan?
· Slave catchers/traders kidnapping them (263)

What does Elijah tell Cooter in the letter?
· Mr. Leroy kinapped him, but he would be back Saturday (268-69).

What “provisions” did Elijah take from his house?
· 20 chunking stones, knife, address of Mr. Aldor (273)

The Death of Mr. Leroy

According to Elijah, “Riding a horse ain’t nowhere near as good as riding a .”
· Mule (275)

What is the name of the horse they took to Michigan?
· Jingle Boy (275)

Why did Elijah tell Mr. Leroy he needed to stop riding the horse too hard?
· If the horse dies it will take twice as long to get to the village (277)

Where did Benji say the preacher went next?
· To gamble with white folks at East Lee Stable (282)

What happened to Mr. Leroy?
· Grabbed his left arm, breathing heavy, fell off horse to the ground, hallucinating. He had a heart attack or stroke and died (283-85).

Who did Mr. Leroy think Elijah was?
· His son, Ezekial (284)

What did Mr. Leroy make Elijah promise before he died?
· To get the money and shoot the preacher if he lost it all (284-85)

What did Mr. Leroy give Elijah before he died?
· His fancy pistol (285)


What kind of dog did Pa warn Elijah are dangerous?
· The quiet dogs because they aren’t scared of you and are only looking to bite you (287)

How did Elijah get past the scary dog?
· He knocked it unconscious with three stones (288).

What is the “Reverend’s” full name?
· Right Reverend Deacon Doctor Zephariah Connerly the Third (292)

Who could Elijah make out “standing” against the barn wall when he first walked in?
· The Reverend (292)

What were the “five bundles or sacks” Elijah found in the barn?
· Captured slaves fastened to the wall (296).

Why did the lady have four arms?
· She was carrying a baby (298)

Three of the slaves were from
· Africa (303)

What was the smell in the stable?
· Fear (303)

What did the slave traders do to Reverend?
· Bust his teeth out, split his tongue, and strangled him (305)

How far away was Michigan from Canada?
· About an hour (307)

Why did Elijah say he wouldn’t be playing abolitionist again if he got out of Michigan?
· The experience in the barn had taken all the fun out of it. He had seen real slaves and he knew he wasn’t brave enough to even pretend to be an abolitionist. It shouldn’t be a game. (308)

Busting Free!

How many people had captured the slaves?
· 4 (309)

What was Elijah’s plan to get the slaves out of the barn?
· Steal the keys from the drunk guy, open the shackles, escape the barn and shoot anyone who gets in their way (310).

What did the slaves think Elijah was when they first saw him?
· A haint (312)

Why did the female slave tell Elijah not to kill anyone?
· He is 12, educated and free. He doesn’t need the murders resting on his soul (311).

What is the female slave’s name?
· Chole (315)

Why did Elijah think Miss Chloe wanted the pistol?
· It had six shots and there with five slaves plus the baby. He thinks she is going to kill them before they can be taken back to slavery (316)

Why did Miss Chloe say the baby looks like Elijah?
· So Elijah will take the baby back to Buxton and be free (319).

Who did Elijah plan to ask for help to get the slaves out? (321)
· Mr. Alston


Why would Mr. Alston not help Elijah free the slaves?
· They have laws in America. If they were caught helping the slaves escape, then they would be sold into slavery with them. (324)

Why did one of the men punch Elijah in his chest?
· To make Elijah stop talking about freeing the slaves and go back to Buxton. The men weren’t going to help him. (324-325)

Why did Elijah get sick?
· It was his conscience talking to him because he was going to have to break his promise to Mrs. Chloe and not go back to the barn (326).


What did Elijah compare his conscience to?
· The snake in the cookie jar; no matter how you try to run away from it, you end up carrying it right with you (327)

What had Mrs. Chloe been trying to tell Elijah with all her grown-up talk?
· To take the baby to Buxton and be free (

Describe the lie Elijah makes to have Mrs. Chloe give him the baby.
· His mama lost her baby girl two years ago. The baby is the spitting image of her. Mama wears all black because she can’t have any more children. She would love to see her daughter again. She roams around the woods all night (332). Mama wants another child to raise (333).

What did Mrs. Chloe mean when she said, “Something told me to wait”?
· She was planning to kill all of the slaves, including her daughter (335).

What did Mrs. Chloe say Elijah proved?
· That sometimes if you want something horrible bad enough, sometimes dreams have a way of finding you (337).

What is the baby’s name?
· Too-mah-ee-nee or Hope(338)

What did Mrs. Chloe want the baby to know when she was older?
· That her father, Kamau, was full-blood African and a king (338)

What did Mrs. Chloe say she was going to do with the gun?
· Kill the slave traders and the dog (339)

Who was Elijah going to give the baby to once he got home?
· Mrs. Brown who had been wearing mourning clothes (340)

How did Frederick Douglas get his revenge on Elijah?
Hope spit up all over Elijah (341)

End here.