Blowin’ in the Wind

Bob Dylan, illus. by Jon J Muth. Sterling, $17.95 (28p) ISBN 978-1-4027-8002-8
Dylan’s most famous song (the original 1963 recording is included on a CD) gets a lavish but conceptually muddled treatment from Muth (Zen Shorts). In a series of full-bleed watercolor landscapes that accompany Dylan’s lyrics, Muth imagines a group of children embarking on a journey, with a mysterious paper airplane acting as their lodestar. Arriving by boat at the wall of a city, dark-skinned figures dressed in white drop a guitar down to them. Although the guitar later breaks, the children reach a happy conclusion; they’re last seen frolicking on a hilltop overlooking the ocean, where an abandoned cannon, covered with the flags of several nations, sits as a reminder of the folly of conflict. The target audience can handle ambiguity and multiple levels of meaning, but Muth’s gorgeous washes of colors, solemn figures, and enigmatic symbols probably won’t help children think more deeply about the song and its meaning. Moreover, the pictures lack the tension of Dylan’s lyrics—how the need for transformation and justice must continually struggle against individual inertia and the pull of the status quo. Ages 5–8. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 10/24/2011
Release date: 11/01/2011
Genre: Children's
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