Reviews for Blowin' in the Wind
Booklist Reviews 2011 December #1
The evocative lyrics of Dylan's classic have been blowing in the wind for almost 50 years. Now comes a picture book that illustrates the song. Muth has set a difficult task for himself, that of making the message about universal rights relevant to a young audience. He remembers in an endnote how he first heard the song as a 12-year-old listening to a transistor radio. He wanted to find a visual element that children could follow through the story and chose a paper airplane. Here, in soft watercolor spreads, children, individually and in small groups, follow the airplane across fields and seas, seeing ice floes melt and people behind a wall. A red balloon and a guitar are other images that repeatedly appear. The final spread shows children playing, while behind them a cannon is sheathed in the flags of several countries. The intended age group may not understand all the specifics, but they will be moved by the feelings engendered by the words. An accompanying CD provides the opportunity to hear Dylan's original. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Spring
Muth offers thought-provoking illustrations for this famous song and the questions it poses about life, though its child appeal is doubtful. He suggests that the "answer blowin' in the wind" is written on paper airplanes gliding through the paintings (but readers aren't privy to what's inscribed). An informative essay provides historical context and explains the song's relevance today. A CD is included.
Kirkus Reviews 2011 November #2
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) Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 October #4
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.) [Page ]. Copyright 2011 PWxyz LLC
School Library Journal Reviews 2012 January
K-Gr 4--The lyrics of Dylan's classic song do not stand alone, so the inclusion of the original recording is critical. An artist's note explains Muth's relationship with the song and the reason for the paper airplanes in each illustration (the "answers" might be on the sheets of paper blowing in the wind). A note from a music historian provides context for the song's genesis and explains its timelessness. Both notes are interesting and enriching, but geared toward older readers. Muth's watercolor paintings are delicate and beautiful; however, they are somewhat abstract and do not always work with the words. The combination of adult lyrics mentioning injustice and death with illustrations of youngsters carrying balls and balloons is somewhat jarring. Older children and teens would get the most out of the lyrics and history, but may be turned off by the art. Children who would relate to the illustrations may find the song too solemn and difficult to comprehend. Teachers of music and/or history, and fans of folk music will be pleased with the book, but its oddness may narrow its general appeal.--Heidi Estrin, Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL [Page 92]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.