cover image Roots and Blues: A Celebration

Roots and Blues: A Celebration

Arnold Adoff, illus. by R. Gregory Christie, Clarion, $17.99 (96p) ISBN 978-0-547-23554-7

In this visceral collaboration, Adoff and Christie honor the enduring legacy of blues music. Vibrant, haunting acrylic paintings portray crowded slave ships, chain gang labor, and the crackling energy of juke joints. Several poems titled "Listening" capture the sounds of the decades in which they're set (the "high-metal shuffle of chains between wrists") and mimic the rhythms and repetitions of the blues ("Singing vegetables for sale near Auction Square./ Silence under heavy snow one Kansas City winter./ Memphis waterfront noise and rush/ Saint Louis waterfront noise and rush"). This is a challenging, open-hearted collection with images and poems that bleed into one another, but also stand powerfully alone. Ages 8–12. (Jan.)