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Puff the Magic Dragon was one of my very favourite songs as a child, so when I saw a book based on the popular song - I couldn't wait to add it to our collection. My husband immediately started trying to wind me up, claiming I had bought our child a book about drug abuse, but in all honesty, I think too much has been made of this. The poem, Puff the Magic Dragon was originally written in 1959 by Leonard Lipton, then a student at Cornell University. The author has repeatedly denied any connection between the poem and drug abuse, and at the time it was written, I do not believe there was a significant drug culture in American Universities. The author claims the poem is solely about the loss of innocence and imagination as a child grows up. This poem was later set to music, and recorded by Peter Paul and Mary, and is a beautiful children's song and story, that has sadly fallen into disrepute. The song has been banned in several countries, but to the best of my knowledge the book has not been banned or challenged.
The main selling point to this book is the illustrations. These are absolutely beautiful and perfectly capture the innocence of childhood. There are no words to this book other than the lyrics to the song, so you can choose to read or sing the story. Because the words of the chorus are repeated at times, this may seem confusing if you are simply reading, but you can always choose to read the passages only once.
I find it hard to believe anyone could possibly be unfamiliar with the words to this song, but I have to realise it isn't nearly as popular as when I was young so will have to try to recap briefly. The lyrics tell of a little boy and his best friend, a magical dragon. the child and dragon have magical adventures, until the boy grows to old for magic and abandons his faithful friend. Without a child to believe in him the dragon slips into his cave in sorrow.
Much of the protests against this song stem from the fact that the child is named Jackie Paper, which some will claim refers to the rolling papers used to smoke marijuana. This who wish to view this as a hidden message promoting drug abuse will also claim the dragon's name refers to puffing on a joint and the autumn mist refers to the cloud of smoking resulting from smoking - or perhaps the foggy state of the brain after a few joints.
I prefer to see the story simply as the author claims it to be, a story depicting the loss of innocence and magic as we grow up. Even this doesn't sound much fun for a child though. I always found the ending of the original song very sad. Thankfully, although this book has not changed the lyrics to the song in any way, the illustrator has crafted a much kinder and more gentle ending, with joy and hope coming back into Puff's life rather than leaving him in despair in cave.
My oldest son enjoyed this book for some time before outgrowing it. My youngest enjoyed this as an infant and has rediscovered it and loves it even more now than he did when he was younger. The illustrations in this book take a child into a world of fantasy with a beautiful gentle dragon, royalty and pirates, dolphins in striped jumpers, sailing ships, climbing trees and all the magic of an imagination filled childhood. The illustration cover all of the pages, with the lyrics written over the pictures, and are lovely and full of colour.
The copy I purchased also includes a short CD. This has the original Peter Paul and Mary song, which is a brilliant accompaniment to this book. For those of us who remember the song, it is very much a trip down the Cherry Lane of childhood memories. For those who have not yet heard the song, it will give you a chance to really appreciate the magic of it all. Of course the book would be lovely on it's own still, but I would really recommend buying the one with the musical CD as well. It really is a wonderful song for children. In addition to the original Puff the Magic Dragon, there is also and instrumental version, and two American folk tales : Froggy Went A Courtin and the Blue Tail Fly. Froggy Went a Coutin is a rather odd song about a frog ( armed with a pistol) who wants to marry a mouse. The Blue Tail Fly is also known as Jimmy Crack Corn. This is played in a much more somber tone on this CD. I have heard it played in a much more upbeat tone, which I preferred. It's another odd song , meant to be the words of an American slave, somewhere between a lament and rejoicing at the death of his master. I can't say that I would really bother to listen to these songs, but they might be of more interest to others. Still, the CD is worth having in my opinion just for the Puff the Magic Dragon song. We have listened to this several times and still enjoy it every time we hear it.
I think this is a beautiful book and song and would recommend this for children as young as age 1 1/2 with a parent carefully turning the pages, and believe it would still be a lovely book as long as a child is old enough to enjoy picture books. although the text is printed over illustrations and at times in reverse print ( white text on a dark background), I think this could still be useful as a child is learning to read as well as songs are very easy to learn by heart and a child could follow along with the text while singing the song. The text is of a good size and well spaced, but parents should be aware that white on dark, or text over illustration is not recommended for children with dyslexia.
This wonderful children's book was inspired by Peter Yarrow (from Peter, Paul and Mary) to use this song to create a story.
The book is a paperback book on a fairly largish scale with a picture of 'Puff' the green dragon on the front towards the back the picture of the dragon carries on with little Jackie Paper playfully sliding down his tail.
~*~*~ The Story ~*~*~
The story is a simple but easy one, Puff the Magic Dragon lived by the sea in a place called Honalee. He befriends a little boy called Jackie Paper who brings him lots of things such as string and sealing wax and together they share some great adventures.
The story goes on that they go travelling on a boat and meet noble Kings and Princes and Pirates would lower their flag whenever Puff roared out his name.
However, like most things little Jackie Paper grew up and no longer wanted to play silly games with Puff and no longer came to visit and Puff became lonely and withdrew into his cave never to come out again....or so we thought....a lovely little girl befriends Puff the Magic Dragon and Puff is happy as he has a new friend and a playmate once again.
~*~*~ The Illustrations ~*~*~
The one thing I love about all children's books is the illustrations that are used to bring the story/stories to life.
The illustrations in this book were done by Eric Puybaret, having done some research it appears that this man has had more than 20 books of his own published in his native France.
The Sunday Times said that Puybarets' atmospheric paintings give new life to the old Peter, Paul and Mary song and I whole heartedly agree.
~*~*~ The C.d ~*~*~
My kids love the c.d that comes with this book and sometimes they ask that I put the c.d on even when we aren't reading the book.
The c.d has the original version of Puff the Magic Dragon as well as three other songs recorded by Peter Yarrow with Bethany and Rufus.
~*~*~ My Thoughts ~*~*~
I grew up with this song being played by both of my parents and reading this wonderful story to my children brings back such happy memories.
There is a c.d that is included with this book and when we play it and read the story together the look of excitement and wonder on the faces of my children as they wonder whether or not Puff really does exist just makes my heart melt.
~*~*~ Information ~*~*~
The authors of this book are Peter Yarrow and Lenny Lipton.
ISBN: 978-0-230-70381-0 and is reasonably priced at £6.99
We bought this new from Waterstone's when they had a deal on, I think the offer was 3 books for 2 back towards the latter part of last year.
You should be able to pick this book up from the library, charity shop or Amazon for a reasonable price.
Welcome to Honalee, an enchanted land of imagination and love. In this special place, you can share in the playful adventures of Jackie Paper and his childhood friend, Puff, the magic dragon. Peter Yarrow of the beloved musical group Peter, Paul and Mary and co-writer Lenny Lipton present their timeless song in an unforgettable children's book. Become lost in artist Eric Puybaret's remarkable illustrations that capture the magic of Honalee and its extraordinary inhabitants, then enjoy two vibrant new interpretations of the song plus two other tracks (Froggie Went A-Courtin' and The Blue Tail Fly ) in an exclusive CD.