Man Gave Names to All the Animals

Nov 27, 2003

From Publishers Weekly
In a track on his 1979 album Slow Train Coming, Dylan speculates about Mankind’s naming of beasts. Although his observations are by no means profound, his subject is appropriate for preschoolers: “[Man] saw an animal leavin’ a muddy trail./ Real dirty face and a curly tail./ He wasn’t too small and he wasn’t too big./ ‘Ah, think I’ll call it a pig.’ ” Menchin (The Day the Whale Came) smoothly adapts this lark of a musical moment to the page by making it a guessing game. In teasing spreads, he reveals the eyes, feet or tail of the nameless creature, then unveils it whole. Menchin surrounds his block prints of barnyard animals with mixed media collages. A linocut pink pig sits in a patch of greenish straw, for instance, and a cropped photo of a crowd overlooks a bull and toreador. Even if the chosen lyrics eliminate both the catchy tune and the famous voice, this labor of love recommends Dylan to a new generation. Ages 3-10.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal
Through vivid paintings of a primeval planet teeming with wildlife, Arnosky translates Dylan’s 1979 song about the naming of Earth’s animals into a gorgeous picture book. Full lyrics and a CD of the original song are included. In Dylan’s narrative, Man takes note of the characteristics of various animals, including a bear, cow, bull, pig, and sheep, and determines a name for each creature. “He saw an animal that liked to growl,/Big furry paws and he liked to howl,/Great big furry back and furry hair./’Ah, think I’ll call it a bear.'” Children will have to supply the name for the final animal as he slithers away. Rather than the expected spotted cow and rosy pink pig, Arnosky features the burly undomesticated beasts that would have roamed during the earlier days of humankind. But the paintings are not without their dose of whimsy. Crocodiles and dolphins swim side by side and penguins line up beside a tiger, rhino, toucan, and other wildlife from various habitats. The effect is entirely in keeping with the imagined world of Dylan’s lyrics. A list of 170 species appears in the back of the book, with hints on locating each creature on Arnosky’s website. Beautifully printed with embossed cover and a surprise image beneath the dust jacket, this book will jump off library shelves and make a great keepsake for personal libraries as well. With its broad appeal to spiritual, scientific, and just plain animal-loving audiences, this book is a winner.
–Jayne Damron, Farmington Community Library, MI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.