Friday, May 20, 2016

The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth & Harlem's Greatest Bookstore by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson

Even the end papers are part of this celebration of the power of words. Young Lewis tells about the bookstore founded by his dad, Lewis Micheaux, that became a Harlem community institution. The National Memorial African Bookstore brought together writers and readers and activists, and pride in a heritage too often ignored. Ordinary folks might run into Malcolm X or Muhammad Ali visiting the bookstore.

R. Gregory Christie received a 2016 Coretta Scott King illustrator honor for the paintings that illustrate the author's story about her great uncle. At the picture book level, this is a story about a son's pride and love for his father. The murder of Malcolm X brings Lewis mingled sadness and relief that his dad is safe.

The text is longer and the story more difficult than most picture books. Historical information at the end extends the book's potential readership to teens and adults. It could introduce the importance of family history or launch a discussion about the places that pull a community together. And it invites readers to think about the books they would want to make sure people read. The Book Itch would pair well with Ellington Was Not a Street by Ntozake Shange.

Review by Carolyn Caywood, retired from VBPL

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for blogging about this book. Before Books at the Beach (VBPL sharing books by bicycle at the oceanfront), there was the National Memorial African Bookstore's owner Lewis Michaux with books on a pushcart in Harlem calling "Knowledge is power. You need it every hour. Read a book!" I love the cover of The Book Itch and the history and passion behind the bookstore.