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Book Review: Man Gave Names to All the Animals by Bob Dylan, illustrated by Jim Arnosky

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 On August 20, 1979, Bob Dylan dropped Slow Train Coming on which there was a song, “Man Gave Names to All the Animals.” The song was not an allegory; it had no deep, hidden meaning. It simply told of man walking along, observing animals, and naming them. It’s not the only simple song that Dylan ever wrote, but with its island-like beat, it is infectious. This is a Bob Dylan song that can be shared with very young children, requiring little explanation. And it’s a great one to get up and jump around to, or — if you prefer — dance.

Award-winning children’s illustrator Jim Arnosky has taken Dylan’s lyrics and paired them with a beautifully vibrant storybook, Man Gave Names to All the Animals, that captures the happy, funky sound of the original song.

Packaged with the book is a CD with the song performed by Bob Dylan. It warms my baby-boomer heart to imagine three-year-olds rocking to classic Dylan. Can “Maggie’s Farm” be far behind?

Arnsoky has populated his book with an astounding variety of animals (yes, even a flamingo) from all parts of the world.  There are fish, birds, insects, and mammals that would never see each other in life (except on Animal Planet) gathered together on the pages of Man Gave Names to All the Animals, and the effect is enchanting.

While most of the animals are familiar, there are sure to be a few that stump readers. There are more than 170 animals illustrated, and they are listed at the end of the book, alphabetically. Those who need clues so that they, too, can name the animals can go to www.jimarnosky.com.

Man Gave Names to All the Animals is a fun book for adults and children to share, made even better by the inclusion of the CD, making it perfect for a sing-along — or a silly-along if you prefer. Keep this lovely hardcover book in mind for holiday gift-giving…and don’t forget the kazoos!

Bottom Line: Would I buy Man Gave Names to All the Animals? You better believe it! (Hitting the street September 7, it is now available for pre-order.)

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