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BLACK CAT BONE by J. Patrick Lewis


The Life of Blues Legend Robert Johnson

by J. Patrick Lewis & illustrated by Gary Kelley

Age Range: 11 & up

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2006
ISBN: 1-56846-194-1
Publisher: Creative Editions/Creative Company

Lewis offers an unconventional biography of the Mississippi blues legend. Poetry, paintings and the subject’s own lyrics tell the story of troubadour Robert Johnson, who died at the age of 27. He left behind a few photographs, a legacy of 29 recorded songs and a great deal of mystery swirling around his death. The poem “1911” depicts the historic background of his birth, others of the church and the death of his teenage bride. Johnson worked in the cotton fields and escaped into music, moving from harmonica and Jew’s harp to guitar. Lyrics to “Cross Road Blues,” “Sweet Home Chicago” and more tell their own stories. One legend has Johnson poisoned by the jealous boyfriend of a lover; another has him walking off a Greyhound bus and into the engulfing darkness of the night. Kelley’s beautiful brooding illustrations, multicolor monotypes using etching ink on plexiglass, add elegance to the mystique. A foreword and lengthy endnotes provide a more straightforward narrative of his life; a brief bibliography offers only adult resources. A stylish and artful work that will hold appeal for adults as well. (Picture book. 11+)