cover image Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing

Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing

James Weldon Johnson. Scholastic, $14.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-590-46982-1

From the title page, on which clouds part to show the face of a weeping black woman whose tears splash into the sea, Gilchrist's (Nathaniel Talking; Night on Neighborhood Street) colored pencil, gouache and watercolor art is as emotion-charged as the lyrics of what is widely considered the African American national anthem. African American children and adults in contemporary clothing are portrayed alongside Africans in traditional dress; they appear against dramatic, sometimes foreboding backgrounds featuring such dynamic forces of nature as a stormy sea, swirling wind and the glowing moon. Gilchrist imports political and religious images (white-sheeted figures burning a bleeding cross, children soaring into the heavens) to convey both the song's sadness (""Stony the road we trod,/ Bitter the chast'ning rod'') as well as its ultimate hope (""Out from the gloomy past./ Till now we stand at last/ Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast""). The lyrics, written by African American statesman and educator Johnson (1871-1938), are reprinted together with the music scored by his brother, J. Rosamond Johnson, at the conclusion of this heady volume. All ages. (Jan.)