Reviews for Blind Boone : Piano Prodigy


Booklist Reviews 2003 December #1
Gr. 5-8. John William "Blind" Boone, born to a runaway slave in 1864, lost his sight at the age of six months. As a child in Missouri, he earned money playing tin whistle and harmonica on street corners and trains. After some education and musical training, Boone became a concert pianist, composing and performing everything from ragtime to classical music, everywhere from local churches to international concert halls. In a postscript, Harrah describes interviews she did 50 years ago with a man who had known Boone in his prime. From those interviews as well as books and archival materials, she has put together an interesting biography of a remarkable man. One memorable chapter records how difficult travel became for Boone after Jim Crow laws restricted his access to hotels, restaurants, and even railway dining cars that had previously welcomed him. Period photos, prints, and drawings illustrate the book. Appendixes include a chronology, source notes for quotations, and lists of books, recordings, and Web sites. ((Reviewed December 1, 2003)) Copyright 2003 Booklist Reviews

----------------------
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2004 Spring
Son of a runaway slave, John William Boone lost his sight at the age of six months and began his performing career at fifteen. Boone combined classical music, spirituals, cakewalks, ragtime, and his own unique style to become one of the earliest professional black composers and concert pianists. The competent prose is illustrated with black-and-white photos. Reading list, timeline, websites. Bib., ind. Copyright 2004 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

----------------------
School Library Journal Reviews 2004 April
Gr 4-6-An introduction to the remarkably gifted but no longer widely known African-American pianist. Born to a runaway slave shortly before the Civil War ended, Boone lost his sight due to an infection when he was six months old. He developed an amazing ability to reproduce any sound after hearing it only once. Before he was five, he was able to repeat the piano pieces played by white children in the homes where his mother worked. While attending the Missouri School for the Blind in St. Louis, he received introductory formal musical training, but it was in the saloons and gambling houses in the city's Tenderloin District that he first heard the lively renditions of folk tunes and the beginnings of ragtime that influenced his style. Harrah's lively and appreciative text contains a great deal of fictionalizing, particularly in descriptions of Boone's childhood. A postscript by the author describes her years of research and oral-history collecting, which began when she was a college student in 1953. Numerous period photos, a chronology, a bibliography, and a list of recordings are included. A well-organized look at an interesting figure about whom very little has been written.-Ginny Gustin, Sonoma County Library System, Santa Rosa, CA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

----------------------
VOYA Reviews 2004 June
John William Boone was born in 1864 to Rachel, a slave who had escaped to Missouri through the Underground Railroad before her baby was born. At six months, Boone's eyes were removed because of a severe infection. Before he was five, he shocked those around him by sitting down to the piano and perfectly playing back a song he had just heard, beginning an astonishing lifelong love affair with the piano that blossomed into a hugely successfully touring career before ending in near anonymity. Blind Boone's life reads like a Dickens novel. His fellow townspeople, black and white, rallied together to get him into a fine music school when he was nine. He flourished until a new superintendent was more offended by the color of Boone's skin than delighted by his gifts. Boone ran away and was kidnapped by a charlatan promoter who nearly enslaved Boone while exploiting his musicianship. Rescued by a successful black businessman, married to a loving woman, thriving on the warm reception of his audiences, Boone's charmed life as performer and composer wound down because of declining health and the rise in popularity of jazz Dozens of photographs and sidebars on Scott Joplin, Reconstruction, and Blind Thomas Green Bethune, another sightless pianist, enliven this fascinating biography of one of America's lost treasures. It is a highly recommended resource for biography assignments and leisure reading.-Beth E. Andersen Index. Photos. Biblio. Source Notes. Chronology. 4Q 4P M J S Copyright 2004 Voya Reviews.

----------------------