Friday, February 19, 2010

Poetry Friday - Blues Journey

I’m enjoying the February blues. During my first read of Blues Journey by Walter Dean Myers, I was mesmerized with how the blue, purple and brown tones of Christopher Myers’ illustrations worked so beautifully with the heartfelt poetry. On my second read, I couldn’t help but sing my way through the book. While the subject matter of the blues is often honest, raw and dark in nature, the poetry sung as lyrics lifted me up. As the title suggests, the blues poetry took me on a journey and gave me a better understanding of what is asked in the book of the blues: “Are you my pain and misery,/ or my sweet, sweet company?”

Blues Journey opens with an introduction on the origins of the blues, describing how the art form is rooted in two traditions in African music with the “call and response” style of the lyrics and the pentatonic (five tone) musical scale. The brief description on the evolution of blues is a fascinating background to share with young readers before they read the poetry. A helpful “Blues Glossary” on the final page helps readers understand terms such as “crossroads” and “feather pillow”.

Teachers might be interested in sharing this book with their students in English and Music classes or for Black History Month celebrations.

If you find this book at your library or bookstore, there's a chance you'll have a crowd of people encircling you if find yourself breaking into song.

Blues Journey
by Walter Dean Myers
illustrated by Christopher Myers
Holiday House March 2003

Irene Latham is hosting Poetry Friday today.


  1. I smiled at your first line: because I am NOT enjoying the February blues. But you got me by the end. This WDM book completely passed me by and I'm going to look for it. My children's lit class will be reading Love that Dog soon, and I wanted some WDM poems to supplement. This sounds great. Thank you!

  2. Thanks, Jeannine. I didn't know I could 'celebrate' the February blues until now. Hope you can find a copy soon so you can join in the 'celebration.'

  3. We're having a blue February. I'll add this book to my "To Read" list.


  4. Sometimes, nothing can be so delightful as singing the blues just as sometimes I like to have a good cry. Thanks for sharing!

    Laura Evans

  5. Sheri,
    I can tell that your review was written not just from a literary perspective but by someone who knows the music as well. Great review. And that cover illustration is charming isn't it?

  6. Thanks, Stephen.
    Yes - I agree with you about the cover illustration. What a mood it sets! I can't get enough of that sky.