Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Black Cat Bone
The life of Robert Johnson, a blues musician with extraordinary talent, is presented in poetic form by J. Patrick Lewis. Considering that Johnson is a man about whom little is known, Lewis provide shape and substance to an important blues musician who lived only to age 27. The illustrations are smoky and indistinct, lending an air of mystery, as well as a flavor of the 1930's, when Johnson performed.
This would be appropriate for a middle school (or older) student, both because the verse would be difficult for a younger student to understand and because of some content. (Johnson's womanizing is mentioned in two poems, including the one in which he is poisoned by a jealous husband.) However, the blues flavor of the poetry, including some of Johnson's lyrics, are powerful and a great medium to introduce blues or the musician's music to students. The book is well written, well illustrated, and...well, it sings!