Dylan's lyrics succeed here better than many other songs that find their way to picture books.
Bucking the usual dismal results when popular songs are forced into an illustrated format, this one makes a brave go—though children will likely be less drawn to it than their parents and grandparents. Paired to Dylan’s often-abstract 1963 lyrics—which, as music scholar Greil Marcus notes in a perceptive tribute as an afterword, can be either “hopeful” or “full of doubt,” depending on how they are sung—Muth’s (Zen Shorts, 2005; City Dog, Country Frog, 2010) full-spread, Impressionistic watercolors are equally open to interpretation. They place a cast of introspective young children with eyes cast down or to the side near roads and on rolling grassy hills, in a misty wood or floating in a small boat past a prison wall and a mountain of ice. Adding paper airplanes, a bright red balloon, a guitar, a cannon shrouded in national flags (topped by those of the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China) and other openly metaphorical details, the artist creates an airy, expansive setting for the spare words that positively compels pensive contemplation.
Big questions, posed with majestic simplicity—and packaged with a CD of the original track. (artist’s afterword). (Picture book. 8-10, adult)