Both Sides Now

Joni Mitchell, Author, Alan Baker, Illustrator
Joni Mitchell, Author, Alan Baker, Illustrator Scholastic $14.95 (1p) ISBN 978-0-590-45668-5
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Acrobat Ebook Reader - 108 pages - 978-1-59019-110-1
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Mitchell's quintessentially '60s song makes an uneasy transition to print in this one-note picture book. Musically, it has lost none of its ethereal attractiveness, but as a picture book it just doesn't hold water. Like those of most popular songs, the lyrics don't provide the kind of strong narrative drive needed to catch and hold a child's attention. Baker, a British illustrator best known for his Benjamin books, does his best to inject a visual storyline (the courtship of two caterpillars who become butterflies) into the song's ambiguous message of love and the meaning of life, but his efforts are fruitless. The artwork, though colorful, is flat, and given the mercurial lyrics, the book emerges doubly handicapped, likely to leave young readers either puzzled or indifferent. A more entertaining alternative might be to purchase some of Mitchell's recordings and introduce kids to the real thing instead. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)
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