No Crystal Stair

Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, Author, R. Gregory Christie, Illustrator
Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, illus. by R. Gregory Christie. Carolrhoda Lab, $17.95 (192p) ISBN 978-0-7613-6169-5
Ebook - 196 pages - 978-0-7613-8727-5
Open Ebook - 192 pages - 978-1-283-41619-1
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Nelson and Christie, the team behind Bad News for Outlaws, blend photographs, original artwork, and archival materials with fictionalized first-person narratives to tell the story of Nelson's great-uncle, Lewis Michaux, who opened a Harlem bookstore that served as a meeting place and symbol of black empowerment for 35 years. Tracing Lewis's roots to a childhood filled with questioning and rebellion, Nelson alternates between Lewis's voice and those of his parents, brothers, and others—characters who, like Lewis, spring to life on page. After rejecting a life in service of the church, Lewis leaves Virginia for Harlem, where in 1939 he opens the National Memorial African Bookstore, "by and about black people," earning the nickname "the Professor." The narrative expands to include the voices of Harlem business owners, residents, and store visitors over the decades, their stories and perspectives revealing how one man's vision helped galvanize his community. Nelson and Christie deliver an engrossing blend of history, art, and storytelling in this deeply moving tribute to a singular individual. Final art not all seen by PW. Ages 12–18. Agent: Tracey Adams, Adams Literary. (Feb.)
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