This book is bound to appeal to both children and adults, especially adults who are fans of Bob Dylan.
The book features the lyrics of Bob Dylan’s song, “Forever Young,” which first appeared in 1974 on Dylan’s album “Planet Waves.”
The illustrator, Paul Rogers, uses his ink and acrylic pictures to recreate important events from Dylan’s life, as well as to highlight historical moments and cultural artifacts from the 1960’s and 1970’s.
These moments aren’t really identified as such, however. Rather, the author prefers the reader to discover these hidden gems independently. But he includes a guide at the back of the book. For example, parents may immediately recognize the folk singer on the title page as Woody Guthrie. Does it matter if you don’t? Of course not. It just adds a bit of fun if you do.
A double page spread in the middle (accompanying the lyrics “May you always know the truth, And see the lights surrounding you”) show two kids studying. But for those who look closely, you’ll find the famous poster of Dylan on back of the bedroom door, a picture of iconic actor James Dean on the wall, the “Meet the Beatles” album on the dresser, and an open copy of the book On the Road on the chair, just to mention a few of the “buried treasures” in the picture.
Dylan is one of the most poetic of modern song lyricists, and his simple rhythmic phrases will appeal to the children as much as they probably once did to their parents:
“May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung,
May you stay forever young…
May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young…”
Evaluation: This book can be used two ways. It contains great messages about self-esteem. It is also a wonderful way for children to learn about Dylan, his times, and his music. Although these particular lyrics don’t require Dylan’s raspy, bluesy voice to help convey his ideas, if you can provide the soundtrack for this book as you read, all the better! (The book itself does not include the music.)
Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, 2008