The Book Itch is narrated in the first person by Lewis Michaux's young son, Louie, who likes to help his dad in the store on weekends. Louie is clearly proud of his father's store, seeing it as quite an achievement, a place that draws some many people that sometimes, he says, you can hardly get inside.
Michaux began, Louie says, with a book itch but with only five books, selling them out of a pushcart and the belief that knowledge is power. Opening the bookstore wasn't easy, especially since he couldn't get a loan from the bank for a bookstore, because, as the banker said "Black people don't read."
Well, Michaux worked hard, saved his money and opened The National Memorial African Bookstore, or as he like to call it: The House of Common Sense and the Home of Proper Propaganda." And it was a success, a hub of intellectual thinking and African American history that became a popular destination for all kinds of people - black, white, teachers, politicians, writers, and some famous people including heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, poet/writer Langston Hughes and even Malcolm X, who often spoke from the platform outside the bookstore.
Writing The Book Itch from the perspective of Michaux's son may put this into the category of biographical fiction, but it also allows Nelson to provide a lot of information on a more personal, intimate level, which I think young readers will find very engaging.
Nelson has made Lewis Michaux such a engaging, colorful person whose passion for books and knowledge come through so strongly. I loved reading his aphorisms, of which he was clearly very fond:
|Endpapers from The Book Itch|
Be sure to read Nelson's short biography of Lewis Henri Michaux (1895-1976) at the end of the book, as well as her Author's Note and Selected Bibliography for further reading.
The Book Itch will be available on November 1, 2015.
This book is recommended for readers age 7+
This book was an EARC received from NetGalley