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Blues Journey Hardcover – August 31, 2005

8 customer reviews

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Hardcover, August 31, 2005
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--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 2-6–Father/son talents Walter Dean Myers and Christopher Myers teamed up to create a beautiful exploration of musical blues (Holiday House, 2003). The elder wrote and Christopher illustrated this deeply symbolic tale. A collection of blues verse follows an in-depth introduction that studies the historical roots and the musical elements of blues. The call-and-response text is brought alive by narrator Richard Allens enthusiastic rendition of the text, accompanied by simple blues instrumentation. Although this title will provide a wonderful introduction to blues music, it will be appreciated by those who have thoroughly studied the subject as well. The illustrations and text, sometimes paired with a hauntingly lonely harmonica, explore such subjects as poverty, lynching, slavery. and injustice. One verse reads: Heard the top deck groaning, yes, and the ocean roar/ Heard my brother crying till I couldnt hear no more/ O Lord, O Lord/ Aint it hard when your brothers crying/ And you dont hear him anymore? The subjects are serious and sensitive, but perhaps the first verse in this collection ultimately sums up the books intention: Blues, blues, blues/ Blues, what you mean to me?/ Are you my pain and misery/or my sweet, sweet company? Appropriate for group or individual listening, this title is best utilized with adult guidance to help with the blues glossary in the back of the book. An essential addition to school and public library collections.–Kirsten Martindale, formerly Menomonie Public Library, WI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Gr. 5-8. The blues' deceptively simple rhyme scheme tracks the deeper feelings of lives that have been bruised. In this picture book for older readers, Myers offers blues-inspired verse that touches on the black-and-blue moments of individual lives. His son Christopher's images, which illustrate the call-and-response text, alternate between high spirited and haunting. Myers begins with a very necessary introduction to the history of the blues that includes an explanation of the rhyme scheme. Still, the level of sophistication necessary for kids to get into the book is considerable: "Strange fruit hanging, high in the big oak tree / Strange fruit hanging high in the big oak tree / You can see what it did to Willie, / and you see what it did to me." Myers' original verse is unsettling if young people know the reference from the Billie Holiday song, but unclear if they don't ("strange fruit" is defined in the glossary). The accompanying illustration, though it's one of the less inspired ones, helps clarify things--a boy walks in a crowd carrying a sign saying, "yesterday a man was lynched." But there's no cohesion between the spreads, and the next one features a blues singer at a mike: "The thrill is gone, but love is still in my heart . . . I can feel you in the music and it's tearing me apart." Much of Myers' poetry here is terrific, by turn, sweet, sharp, ironic, but it's the memorable collage artwork, executed in the bluest of blue ink and brown paper, that will draw readers first. Once inside the book, some children will immediately hear the songs the poetry sings; others will have to listen more closely. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 and up
  • Grade Level: Preschool and up
  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Live Oak Media (August 31, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595194339
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595194336
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 8.8 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,191,346 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Walter Dean Myers is a New York Times bestselling and critically acclaimed author who has garnered much respect and admiration for his fiction, nonfiction, and poetry for young people. Winner of the first Michael L. Printz Award, he is considered one of the preeminent writers for children. He lives in Jersey City, New Jersey, with his family.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Ayelle on February 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Father-son, writer-illustrator team Walter Dean Myers and Christopher Myers have produced a masterpiece. W. D. Myers's text is made up of poetic blues lyrics, the "call and response" depicting the African-American experience. The poetry is beautiful, unsettling and evocative; it is perfectly complemented by C. Myers's art. The artwork is done entirely in white paint, warm brown paper bags, and blue ink -- every blue tone from navy-black blue to ice-white blue. It is not at all obvious at first glance that his palette was so limited; C. Myers is astonishingly creative, using a wide variety of artistic techniques and tools, and his spreads are richly textured and diverse. The images are moody, haunting, and tense. Sorrow and pain are the dominant emotions, though hope, joy, tenderness and celebration make appearances as well.
As the title indicates, the book is a journey, and the verses and images progress forward through the timeline of the blues, from the end of slavery through the beginning of the civil rights movement. The pictures also show the gradual movement from country to city, the black migration from South to North. The blues timeline is printed at the end of the book, along with a glossary of symbolic terms used in blues lyrics. This back matter, in addition to the opening author's note giving an explanation of the history and meaning of the blues, provide a necessary key to understanding the layers of meaning in the verses and accompanying illustrations.
Several of the spreads are visually breathtaking, evoking deep feelings of grief and sympathy. A man stands facing away from the viewer, knee-deep in a gorgeously painted blue ocean, holding onto a fishing net. The verse speaks of "casting my love out to the sea;" the illustration speaks powerfully of loneliness.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Librarian on November 30, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Blues Journey briefly explores the blues. Walter Dean Myers prefaces his lyrics with a note about this musical genre. We then travel with the speaker through the sadness that he has experienced over his lifetime. W.D. Myers adds a timeline of blues landmarks and a glossary of blues terms to the end of the book. Walter Dean Myers' son, Christopher, beautifully illustrates this book. This is an excellent title for an introduction to a study of the blues with students fifth grade and up!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on May 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I just read this book and even as I write this review I'm feeling reluctant to continue. This isn't one of those books that you quickly glance through then immediately write your response on. It's that rare kind of book that you read, and stop, and then think about for long periods of time. It's the book you carry with you to quiet places, like park benches or sloping green hills, just to read it to yourself. It's a book that sings without straining, that ropes you in with its words and then traps you with its images. I shouldn't be writing this review now. I should stop and think more about this book, ponder it a while, and when I figure out what to make of it THEN I'd write this review. But I'm afraid that if I wait to puzzle this book through completely, I'll never get around to writing anything at all. And that would be the worst response to something this good, I suppose. So it is with great reluctance that I'm going to try to convey to you what this book feels like to read.
A little background first. Written by young adult book god Walter Dean Myers, the author switches his focus from long prose to picture book form. Accompanied by Christopher Myers (an artist in the sense that what he draws drips into you) the two have concentrated on the blues. There's a fabulous author's note at the beginning explaining what the blues is and how it was born. From the call and response singing form, found on the continent of Africa, this type of music mixed with European English to create the final product, the blues. Myers puts it this way, "When art from two cultures comes together, the result is often an exciting new experience". He goes on to explain a couple terms and how the blues moved from the fields to the cities. Then the book begins.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A. L. Straayer on January 31, 2004
Format: Hardcover
If you want to know what the book is about and the feel of it,
take a look at the cover. It says it all - the scariness, the
unutterable sadness, the awfulness of the slavery & then the segregation in the South from which the Blues developed.
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