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New Orleans Bottle Cap Dancing Comes to East Orange in New Picture Book Launch Party

Credits: Marimba Books
Credits: Rita Williams-Garcia

EAST ORANGE, NJ - Tap dancing on sidewalks, especially in the city’s French Quarter, is a New Orleans tradition as familiar to some as Jazz, Creole and Cajun food, and Mardi Gras. On October 8, that piece of New Orleans culture comes to Newark, NJ at the launch party for a new picture book, Bottle Cap Boys Dancing on Royal Street.

For generations, Black youngsters have danced for tourists on the streets of New Orleans—some because they enjoy it, but many others to earn money for their families. Instead of dancing in store-bought tap shoes, young boys and girls stamp and grind bottle caps into the soles of their sneakers until the bottle caps stay firmly in place at the toe.

In her new picture book, Bottle Cap Boys Dancing on Royal Street, award-winning author Rita Williams-Garcia (One Crazy Summer, Coretta Scott King and Newbery Honor winner) gives voice to the dancing and to two youngsters, brothers Randy and Rudy, who help keep this unique New Orleans tradition alive.

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The October 8 book launch, which is co-sponsored by the Newark Public Library, will feature a reading and signing from Williams-Garcia, music from the Janet Van Kline Ensemble, as well as a special performance by Newark’s own tap dancer/choreographer Maurice Chestnut.

Event hosts are award-winning authors and publishers Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson. The Hudsons are founders of Just Us Books, the nation’s leading independent publisher of books that celebrate Black history and culture, which celebrates its 27th anniversary this October; and co-founders with their children of Marimba Books, a multicultural children’s book imprint.

The event takes place from 6 to 8 pm and is free and open to the public. RSVP to is requested.

Bottle Cap Boys Dancing on Royal Street by Rita Williams Garcia, illustrated by Damian Ward, ISBN: 978-1-60349-030-6, is targeted for readers ages 5 and up. (hardcover, $16.95, published by Marimba Books, distributed by Just Us Books)

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