The maxim “Think Global, Act Local” will reach an entirely new level at the book launch for Maud Macrory Powell’s middle-grade historical novel, City of Grit and Gold, which will be held at Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore on Saturday, May 6 in celebration of Children’s Book Week. The book, published by Forest Park’s Allium Press, is set in Chicago during the Haymarket Affair of 1886.
Forest Home Cemetery, of course, just happens to be home to the Haymarket Martyrs Monument, so the event, according to Allium Press owner Emily Victorson, “can’t get more local than this.”
Centuries & Sleuths’ owner Augie Aleksy and Allium Press have teamed up in the past, holding events for various Allium authors and all of Allium’s published novels are available in the store. Author Maud Macrory Powell will be kicking off her U.S. book tour in Forest Park, where she will read from, and talk about, her novel. Powell will be joined by musician and labor historian Bucky Halker, who will sing historic labor songs. The event commences with an informal tour of the Haymarket Martyrs Monument at Forest Home Cemetery, led by Forest Park’s own resident historian (and Review contributor) John Rice.
Centuries & Sleuths, as the name implies, offers history and mystery reads. While City of Grit and Gold is not a mystery, it contains a wealth of history specific to the city of Chicago. Set at the time of the Haymarket Affair, the novel tells the story of a 12-year-old girl caught between family members on either side of the labor rights movement. She struggles to understand the tumultuous world of 1886 while maintaining stability within her family. The book puts issues such as the right to protest, workers’ rights, and immigration rights into a child-friendly perspective, drawing the connection between events that occurred 130 years ago and the modern-day struggle for those same freedoms. The novel is an example of the specialized strain of literature published by Allium: engaging reads that both entertain and teach compelling and often overlooked aspects of Chicago’s history.
City of Grit and Gold is testament to the Allium Press motto: “Rescuing Chicago from Capone, one book at a time.” According to Victorson, “So many people hear Chicago and say ‘Oh, Al Capone,’ and there are so many other things about Chicago that people should know about.” The Haymarket Martyrs Monument tour is also consistent with Allium’s mission of providing a place-specific understanding of the Chicago area.
The book launch was planned to coincide with May Day, which also happens to be Author Maud Macrory Powell’s birthday. While the event itself will take place on May 6, the book’s release date is set for May 1, allowing people to pick up the book before the launch party. “The timing worked out well for the book to be released close to the anniversary,” said Victorson. “What a lot of people don’t realize is that the Haymarket Affair, which was a seminal event in labor history, is why we celebrate May Day as a labor holiday.” May Day also has global importance. As Victorson explained, “All over the world, it is celebrated as a major labor holiday. People come from other countries and see the Haymarket Martyrs Monument as a shrine.”
Copies of City of Grit and Gold can be purchased starting May 1 from Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore, 7419 Madison St. The book launch will take place on May 6 from 1 to 4 p.m. All kids and teens who attend will receive a free, exclusive 2017 Children’s Book Week activity poster designed by Christian Robinson (while supplies last), as well as have access online at Every Child a Reader to original bookmarks created by four of today’s most innovative children’s book illustrators, an original early reader Sesame Street “joy of reading” e-book, and an original middle-grade “One World, Many Stories” graphic novel. More information on Allium Press can be found at alliumpress.com.