If Not For You

if not for you cover image If Not For You

by Bob Dylan
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Hardcover, 32 pages

As a dog savors time spent with his rambunctious puppy, his thoughts turn to... Bob Dylan. Although the bittersweet text describes how bereft the narrator would be without his loved one, Walker—with his palette of nursery blues and greens and a cast that resembles cuddly plush toys—keeps the mood mostly light. At times, Dylan’s lyrics force Walker to slip into something more existential—a mood that can feel out of step with the way children think about the parent-child dynamic. The line “I’d lay awake all night/ Wait for the mornin’ light” finds Dad by himself on his bed at 4am, looking up at the moon with an expression of mild anxiety. Is he pondering the inexorable passage of time? His own mortality? The cost of raising kids? Don’t think twice, Dad—it’s all right.