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Kid Sterling: Books on Jazz and Justice

Christine Welldon introduces her debut novel, Kid Sterling, and she marks its release with a list of inspiring books that addresses the problems of racism and the trials of gifted African Americans and Canadians who dared to pursue their dreams in an unjust world.


Kid Sterling is a Young Adult novel about Sterling Crawford, a young African American kid living in New Orleans in 1906, who works on the streets to help his family. He plays trumpet, and what he’d really like is to learn from his idol, the legendary Buddy Bolden, who is playing a new kind of music that’s turning New Orleans upside down.

Through the pages of this vivid novel, you will discover others whose genius created modern music. The beat and the strains of jazz surged into life even while African-Americans struggled against deep racial divisions of the time: curfews designed to keep black people out of the streets, a loaded justice system, and racial barriers that divided a nation.

For Sterling, life is not easy, but in the end he finds his way in a new and challenging musical world in this richly textured story of a culture that thrives against all odds.

The list below includes African Canadians and African American musicians and others who fought against racism and inspired succeeding genera …

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Laurie Lewis on Memory as Helpful Librarian and Conjuror

Love, and All that Jazz cover

At the end of Laurie Lewis's previous memoir, Little Comrades, it’s 1952 and young Laurie is newly married in New York City. Love, & All That Jazz—both books are published by Porcupine's Quill—picks up shortly thereafter when Laurie meets the brilliant, Manhattan-cool, and dangerously charming musician Gary Lewis. It's the time of Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, and Zoot Sims, and Gary’s life sinks into a sleepless, drug-and-alcohol-fuelled oblivion. Laurie chooses to leave, reporting Gary to the authorities and escaping back to Canada with her child. Love, and All That Jazz continues into the next stage of Laurie's life as a declaration of independence and an exhilarating antidote to defeat.


Julie Wilson: Hearkening back to your 30 years in book production and design, what makes a book well designed to your hand and eye?

Laurie Lewis: I guess I am still a bit of a book nut, in love (or at least potential love) with the book as a three-dimensional physical object, not simply with the flat surface of each page. I care very much about the typeface—its size, spacing, placement on the page—but I care just as much about the quality of the paper, the kind of binding, the general heft and feel of the book.

JW: Is it the same architecture that makes for a wel …

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