From School Library Journal
Grade 6–9—Sixteen-year-old musician Mark Purvis longs to break into the jazz scene of 1925 Harlem, but when he becomes embroiled in a bootlegging scheme with real-life jazzman Fats Waller, he has to find a way to pay off an angry mob boss for losing the liquor. Mark has a job at The Crisis
, a magazine headed up by W. E. B. DuBois and published by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. As expected, his lovably carefree and occasionally clueless personality gets him into an insurmountable pile of trouble, yet it energizes both the plot and era with a contemporary vitality that today's hip-hop and pop-culture fans will appreciate. In this quickly paced and laugh-out-loud narrative, Myers brings Mark face-to-face with a dazzling host of Harlem Renaissance A-listers, including Marian Anderson, Langston Hughes, and Countee Cullen. Their swift, red-carpetlike entrances and exits ignite the hot New York City summer setting with the electricity of creativity and reform. As the story progresses, Mark's awareness of his surroundings and contributions to the cause grow stronger and stronger, and no doubt that's exactly what Myers hopes his readers will realize for themselves as Mark's story unfolds.—Hillias J. Martin, New York Public Library
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It's the summer of 1925, and it is "hotter than a two-dollar pistol" in Harlem. It's particularly uncomfortable for 16-year-old Mark Purvis when the boat that he has been hired to unload turns out to contain bootleg whiskey. Before you can say Prohibition,
the booze vanishes, and Mark finds himself in serious trouble with its owner, mobster Dutch Schultz. In the meantime, Mark finds a job working for W. E. B. DuBois' magazine, the Crisis.
There he meets leading figures of the Harlem Renaissance--writers such as Countee Cullen and Langston Hughes, who, he is told, are exemplars of the "New Negro." Mark doesn't care if he's a New Negro or an old one as long as he can make music like his friend Fats Waller--but the rapidly changing world of the Roaring Twenties keeps getting in his way. Myers has a wonderful time poking affectionately satirical fun at the legends and legendary figures of a revolutionary decade that Zelig-like Mark keeps encountering. Readers will be delighted to accompany the teen on his action-packed adventures. Michael CartCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved