Man Gave Names to All the Animals
Bob Dylan, Illustrated by Jim Arnosky, Sterling, $24.99
It’s the late ’70s. Bob Dylan is on tour and hitting some hard times. A silver cross is thrown on the stage. He picks it up, becomes a born again Christian, and pens the album Slow Train Coming.
Are your kids riveted yet?
Everyone wants their child to love Bob. This probably includes a lot of Christians too.
But his Christian period is a little esoteric for most people let alone the under 5 crowd.
This illustrated version of “Man Gave Names to All the Animals” is a measured introduction to a man who could sophisticate their ears and set a solid foundation for their music taste in the years ahead.
It’s hilarious to conjure Adam, probably propped on a hill, seeing weird beasts go past, and not exerting himself in his momentous naming task.
Bears, sheep, cows: nothing escapes his lazy labelling.
Jim Arnosky loves Bob Dylan and animals alike. His illustrations are vivacious and colourful throughout, but really come into their own at the appearance of the song’s final creature.
It’s a little disappointing that the aspect that really makes the song — Dylan’s comically lengthy contemplative pause on “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh” — is severed to a mere “Ah” prior to revealing the various names.
As Arnosky points out in his introduction, “Bob Dylan has created a song I think everyone can enjoy singing.”
He’s right, but a critical part of that is the “Ahhhhhhhhh.”
Good thing they included a CD single inside the cover so the next generation of fans can get it right.