I have seen Vaunda's novel-length book, No Crystal Stair, which is also about her great-uncle's store. While that book has received many honors, it is too long for younger readers, so I was very pleased to hear that she had written a picture book on the same topic. The Book Itch introduces Lewis Michaux's bookstore through the viewpoint of his son, Lewis Jr. As the narrator, Louie talks about his father's early efforts selling books from a pushcart. He tells of the bankers who refused to loan his father money for a store because "Black people don't read," and telling him that he should sell fried chicken instead. Lewis worked and saved and opened the store anyway - and proved those bankers wrong. His store became a center for discussion and learning and attracted celebrities such as Muhammed Ali and Malcolm X. Although he had little formal education himself, Michaux believed in the power of words and books to improve lives and empower individuals.
This book captures the energy and excitement of the cultural center that was Michaux's bookstore. The childs-eye view of the Heavyweight Champion of the World, or Louie's relief that his father was not hurt when Malcolm X was assassinated make the story more accessible and meaningful to young readers. It is an excellent addition to any library and will make a great read-aloud for lessons on Civil Rights or to accompany units on African American History.
I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley. For more information about the author, visit her page on the publisher's website.