How many times must a man look up Before he can see the sky? The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind The answer is blowin’ in the wind. 4.5 stars
Bob Dylan’s iconic song, Blowin’ in the Wind, comprises the text for a beautiful children’s book by artist Jon J. Muth. Muth has taken the lyrics of Dylan’s song and matched verses to his paintings. All of the pages have a soft outdoor scene consisting of pale shades of blue, green, gray, and white. Each spread has at least one child holding either a red balloon or a red ball, while following a white paper airplane that continually soars through the air, always leading the children on their journey, never touching down.
One young boy with a red ball joins another child. Two children drifting down a river, with a red balloon, pick up the first two kids in the next spread, all still follow the white plane airplane. These kinds of scenes continue to the end of the book, until only the paper plane flies further and further away.
I was a young kid in 1963 when Bob Dylan hit big with his song Blowin’ in the Wind. I was not yet in kindergarten. Still, I remember this song from my older sisters. I believe it turned into a political anthem at one point, possibly for the Vietnam War. In Jon J. Muth’s book, the song, transformed once more, takes four kids on a journey which ends vaguely, leaving the meaning totally up to each reader. It is a solemn journey, one shared in peace, harmony, and a caring for others.
I must admit, one of the last people I’d ever guess would be a children’s book author is Bob Dylan. Have you ever heard him sing? What is he saying? Now, a soundtrack for an alien themed movie, maybe, but a beautiful children’s book? Well, the longer I live, which I hope is a long time, the more I see and hear unimaginable things. For example, a man on the moon didn’t seem odd or unusual to me; but the Wii, the Kindle, the iPhone and me blogging did. Blowin’ in the Wind is probably the mastermind of Jon J. Muth. Bob Dylan probably okay’d the project and then simply handed him the sheet music saying, “Herar, mehnt, ahbd yoour bejyfeful boajss.” (“Here, mate, add your beautiful paintings.”)
Jon J.Muth illustrates a story that has patience, friendship, cooperation, and a journey which encompasses all of this and probably a lot more. I think this is one of those rare books where each reader finds his own meaning on the pages. It can be any story you desire. Parents and children can have a different tale each day. Baby Boomer grandparents who grew up with this song, and have varied reasons for enjoying it, can use the book as a springboard for those moments they want to pass down a generation. If nothing more, Blowin’ in the Wind is a nice diversion, sort of like a walk in the park on a cool evening.
Blowin’ in the Wind is one book I would love to keep. It has a soothing quality in its pages that I noticed before anything else. Whether kids will like this one remains to be seen. I think parents will enjoy this book more, especially those who came of age during the 1960’s. I am exactly not sure what Jon J. Muth is trying to say, if he is trying to say anything, yet I enjoyed it. The pages are a nice diversion from the hectic pace of the day. In the end, the white airplane soars away; now accompanied by dozens of other white paper planes, each maybe carrying an answer, Blowin’ in the Wind. Bob Dylan sings his iconic song from 1963 on an included CD.
Author: Bob Dylan Illustrator: Jon j. Muth Publisher: Sterling Children's Book Publication Date: 2011 Number of Pages: 32 ISBN: 978-1-4027-8002-8