|Dark was the night|
Author: Golio, Gary
The story of Blind Willie Johnson--the legendary Texas musician whose song "Dark Was the Night" was included on the Voyager I space probe's Golden Record.
|Illustrator:||Lewis, Earl B.|
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: LG
Reading Level: 4.20
Points: .5 Quiz: 512095
Kirkus Reviews (+) (06/15/20)
School Library Journal (+) (08/01/20)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (A) (00/07/20)
The Hornbook (00/11/20)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 06/01/2020 The subject of this beautiful biography is blues musician Blind Willie Johnson, whose soulful singing and slide guitar playing so moved people that his song “Dark Was the Night” was included on the Golden Record that NASA sent into space in 1977. There is little known about Johnson’s life, a fact acknowledged by Golio in an afterword, but the author has turned the details uncovered by scholarship into a simple, inspiring story of one man’s commitment to lifting up himself and those around him with his music. As Golio puts it, “It was the sound of one human being reaching out to all the others, telling them not to be afraid of the dark.” Imagery of light and darkness runs throughout the text, both spiritually and literally in Johnson’s blindness, and it is also skillfully evoked in Lewis’ illustrations, which set stars sparkling in the deep blue of outer space and sends gold radiating from Johnson’s guitar as he plays, smiling all the time. An American treasure who shouldn’t go unsung. - Copyright 2020 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 08/01/2020 Gr 2–5—In 1977, Voyager 1 launched into space bearing a Golden Record of images, sounds, and music—a message from Earth to the unknown. One of the chosen songs shares the title of this picture book biography of singer Willie Johnson. Johnson, a blind Black man, was born in Texas in 1897 and loved to sing and play the cigar-box guitar his father had made for him. By the age of eight, he had lost both his mother and his eyesight. As a young man, Johnson took his guitar on the road, traveling from town to town by train, busking to make a living. He often sang the blues, using his pocket knife on steel guitar strings to play "slide." A music executive heard Johnson sing and decided to sign him. Johnson's first record sold thousands. He died in 1945, but his music lived on, now immortalized somewhere in the universe, though easily accessible through YouTube. Lewis's expressive watercolors depict the subject's humble country beginnings as well as the joy he felt when he sang and played. The book's recurrent theme of light is captured in the bright yellow wash throughout. The story of Johnson's life is framed with vivid spreads of a night sky illuminated by stars, referencing both the Voyager's mission and the song title. VERDICT A beautiful, timely tribute to a little-known musician and space venture.—Barbara Auerbach, Cairo P.L., NY - Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.