Friday, November 11, 2011

Blowin' in the Wind

 

Lyrics by Bob Dylan; illustrations by Jon J. Muth


According to Bob Dylan, he only needed about ten minutes to write Blowing in the Wind. It went on to become wildly popular, inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and ranked as #14 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time". And now it has been adapted into a format accessible to children. This picture book is Jon J. Muth's attempt at helping a new generation of readers be as inspired as he was when he first heard Dylan through his transistor radio in 1972. And what a fabulous job he does.


The song lyrics are gracefully accompanied by the most beautiful watercolors. It is immediately obvious how much time and thought was put into this book. The illustrations are done in such a way that they relate directly to the lyrics, but in a natural setting that includes children. I find it extremely clever how the lyrics are the words to the story and the illustrations fit each verse perfectly (including seas, cannonballs, mountains) and yet Muth still manages to make a cohesive story of it. 

The very first illustration is of a little boy holding a large red ball, looking out a window at a paper airplane soaring past. This airplane appears on nearly every page and is meant to represent "the answer" that is blowing in the wind. The little boy from the house (clutching his red ball) stares out at the many roads he has to choose from. A girl in a brilliant red canoe picks him up, and they glide across the seas. Three other children join them from various locations, until they are all tossing the ball to each other, with the flags of their nations draped across a cannon.   



Physically, the book feels very luxurious. This is an oversized edition, with lovely, large pages. The front and back covers are constructed from thicker material than most other picture books, with the CD safely tucked in a neat plastic case embedded in the front. The overall effect is that the book feels substantial, heavy in your hands. And once you see the stunning watercolors waiting inside, it is confirmed that you have found a gem of a picture book. Blowin' in the Wind poses a series of questions about peace, war and freedom. The song is open for interpretation, and each person who listens may define it as they see fit. Truly, a very special book for a new generation.  


Review copy provided by Sterling Publishing.
 

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