ROOTS AND BLUES by Arnold Adoff
Kirkus Star

ROOTS AND BLUES

A Celebration
by , illustrated by
Age Range: 8 & up
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Adoff creates a moving meditation on the roots of American blues. The poet explores the profound relationship between the enslavement of Africans and the music born of that brutalization: “This New World music m o v e s with shackle sounds.” Recurring metaphors flow through the 60 poems, riffing on trauma and triumph. Metal, for one: the clank of chains on ships and chain gangs; a hoe striking rock; the reverberating steel of guitar strings and piano wire. Blood signifies death but also “the / r i c h / red / c h i l d / b i r t h / c o l o r / o f / j o y.” Spare, spondaic lines pulse, connecting the mundane (church, cooking) with the music’s transcendence. Some poems center on specific performers. The poet wryly considers Robert Johnson’s alleged bargain with the devil: “We can still tell that story and smile as we sing his words. His soul is in his songs and his songs live deep on blue e a r t h.” Christie’s Expressionistic acrylics employ a palette of crimson, teal and brown, reserving grays for faces and hands, linking shackled slaves with sharecroppers, rocking grandmothers with juke-joint dancers. An incandescent, important work. (Poetry. 8 & up)

 

Pub Date: Jan. 3rd, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-547-23554-7
Page count: 96pp
Publisher: Clarion
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2010




2011 BEST BOOKS FOR CHILDREN: POETRY & VERSE:

ChildrenPABLO NERUDA by Monica Brown
by Monica Brown
ChildrenWE ARE AMERICA by Walter Dean Myers
by Walter Dean Myers
ChildrenRAH, RAH, RADISHES!   by April Pulley Sayre
by April Pulley Sayre
ChildrenROOTS AND BLUES by Arnold Adoff
by Arnold Adoff

MORE BY ARNOLD ADOFF

ChildrenBLACK IS BROWN IS TAN by Arnold Adoff
by Arnold Adoff
ChildrenDARING DOG AND CAPTAIN CAT by Arnold Adoff
by Arnold Adoff

MORE BY R. GREGORY CHRISTIE

ChildrenFREEDOM IN CONGO SQUARE by Carole Boston Weatherford
by Carole Boston Weatherford
ChildrenTHE BOOK ITCH by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
ChildrenMOUSETROPOLIS by R. Gregory Christie
by R. Gregory Christie

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

ChildrenUNDER THE MAMBO MOON by Julia Durango
by Julia Durango
ChildrenFREEDOM'S A-CALLIN ME by Ntozake Shange
by Ntozake Shange
ChildrenETCHED IN CLAY by Andrea Cheng
by Andrea Cheng