Man Gave Names to All the Animals

written by Bob Dylan
illustrated by Jim Arnofsky

Bob Dylan's Man Gave Names to All the Animals
illustrated by Jim Arnofsky

Children's book review by Sarah Denslow

Ages 3-8

Bob Dylan's children's book

It’s no secret that I’m fond of books whose texts are also songs, but Bob Dylan’s contribution to the genre may be my new favorite in this category.

The song “Man Gave Names to All the Animals” works very well as a children’s book. Each verse describes a particular animal (like a bear or cow) with clues as to its identity, allowing children to chime in when the animal is finally named.

While the ability for children to join in singing/reading this book is definitely a plus, Man Gave Names to All the Animals is worth picking up for the illustrations alone.

Arnosky’s illustrations are beautiful, depicting lush, exotic landscapes teaming with animals. Creatures from all over the world are grouped together, but the lack of geographic realism is more than made up for by the sheer variety of animals shown.

Arnosky depicts over 170 animals in the book. A list is included at the end along with an invitation to readers to try to identify them all (a key may be found at Arnosky website, although not in the book itself). Ranging from familiar bears and penguins to exotic kudus and lemurs, the variety of animals presented allows children of all ages to find and identify new animals.

Interestingly, the animals are all wild creatures, including the cow, bull, sheep, and pig mentioned in the song. Children may have some difficulty reconciling their idea of a pig or sheep with the wild boar and mountain sheep shown, but it’s a good opportunity to discuss the idea of wild versus domestic animals.

A CD of Bob Dylan’s original recording of Man Gave Names to All the Animals is included with my edition of the book, which is great for the days when you aren’t feeling up to singing yourself.

Read more of Sarah's reviews.

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