Puff the Magic Dragon by Peter Yarrow, Lenny Lipton and Eric Puybaret

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Puff the Magic Dragon by Peter Yarrow, Lenny Lipton and Eric Puybaret

Category: For Sharing
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Magda Healey
Reviewed by Magda Healey
Summary: The 60's sweet fairy-tale tune is brought to life with lovely artwork and a new musical version on a CD that also contains 3 other tunes featuring the original band with their offspring.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 24 Date: September 2007
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
ISBN: 978-0230700642

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Puff, the Magic Dragon is a song written by Leonard Lipton and Peter Yarrow and made popular by the group Peter, Paul and Mary. The new version one the CD accompanying this book features Peter's daughter Bethany (there is also an instrumental and two other tunes in similar vein). It's a gentle, sweet but not saccharine folky tune with lyrics about fantasy lands, imaginary friends and growing up that somehow embodies the 60's spirit very well. I was always partial to friendly or at least non-beastly dragons and thus enjoyed my late-in-life encounter with Puff.

Puff lives by the sea in the magic land of Honalee and is a companion of a boy called Jackie Paper. They have numerous magic adventures (everything is possible with a dragon as a friend) but when Jackie grows up, Puff stays rather depressed in his lair. That's in the poem - the book closes on a sign of hope, though, as a girl (possibly Jackie's daughter) appears exploring tentatively in Puff's cave.

This beautifully made book and CD set revives Puff with lavish artwork, careful typesetting and high production values. The hardback I have is bound in fetching dark green canvas, with the CD housed in a round indented space inside the thick back cover rather than just stuck in a plastic bag.

The illustrations by Eric Puybarret are very enchanting indeed and have a dreamy, slightly surreal aspect to the imagery (a cheerful Chirico, perhaps?). The colours are clean but mostly muted rather than primary shades, and there is an uncluttered airiness to the artwork that I rather liked.

As a tribute to the well-loved tune this book works very well. If you loved Puff, the Magic Dragon 40 or so years ago, you might want to remind yourself of the song and introduce it to your child via this vehicle. It would even work as a sentimental present!

If you decide to buy, I would strongly recommend buying the book + CD set, unless you have another copy of the tune handy for use or can sing the text yourself . The lyrics, although apparently started life as a poem to which music was set, do not yield themselves particularly well to just reading aloud.

I would hesitate to recommend this for buying by those with no previous relationship with Puff so to speak. Yes, it's a nice tune, with decent lyrics and well performed, and the artwork is very attractive, but it's all bit insubstantial and more like a "coffee table book for children" than a book that will be read and re-read again and again. But if the idea appeals, it's certainly executed very well.

Thanks to the publisher for sending this title to the BookBag.

If the concept of "song into a picture book" appeals, This Land is Your Land is a brilliant example which would have children poring over the illustrations, and later on the text, for hours.

Buy Puff the Magic Dragon by Peter Yarrow, Lenny Lipton and Eric Puybaret at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Puff the Magic Dragon by Peter Yarrow, Lenny Lipton and Eric Puybaret at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Puff the Magic Dragon by Peter Yarrow, Lenny Lipton and Eric Puybaret at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Puff the Magic Dragon by Peter Yarrow, Lenny Lipton and Eric Puybaret at Amazon.com.


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