Peter Paul and Mary, (Peter Yarrow, Paul Stookey and Mary Travers) were a Folk group created and managed by Albert Grossman, in 1961. They are known for the songs, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” “Lemon Tree” and “If I had a Hammer.” Their most popular song amongst all ages is none other than “Puff The Magic Dragon.” Peter Yarrow and Leonard Lipton wrote Puff the Magic Dragon in 1959. However, this song was not recorded and released by Peter, Paul and Mary, until 1963.
This song is about a little boy, named Jackie Paper, who’s childhood friend is Puff, a magical dragon with a fearless roar. Jackie Paper would visit Puff and together they shared magical adventures. Eventually, Jackie Paper out grows Puff, and quits visiting him. Puff is so saddened by his loss of his playmate, Jackie, Puff quits roaring and his scales fall off. Puff believes that without Jackie, he cannot be brave and retreates to his cave, never to be seen again.
It is a sad story indeed. I cried every time I listened to it when i was a child. The lyrics are as heart squeezing as the lyrics to “Cat’s in The Cradle” performed by Folk Rock singer, Harry Chapin, which has predominately the same message; children grow up, and out of most everything quickly. All of a sudden, almost over night, their “needs” change. What once was important to them is no longer considered.
In 1978, Puff The magic dragon was produced in animated form, with two sequels. All featured the Puff The Magic Dragon soundtrack. Puff’s voice was the voice of Burgess Meredith in all films. In 2007, for the first time, the song, Puff the Magic Dragon, was converted to book form, by Peter Yarrow, Leonard Lipton and illustrator, Eric Puybaret and is accompanied with a 4 song CD, featuring the vocals of Peter Yarrow, his daughter Bethany Yarrow and the melody is performed by Cellist, Rufus Cappadocia.
The retail price was listed as $16.95 in the US and $18.95 in Canada. Out of curiosity, I decided to purchase a set. I was not able to find it in a store, but I did find it online, at Walmart. Available for $11.07 plus shipping. On Black Friday, November 28, 2008, I ordered three sets. One book set for my Granddaughter, a set for a “future” Grandchild, and one for me. The shipping total was $5.91 and the tax was $2.55.
I received my order, December 03, 2008.I quickly opened the box, and much to my surprise, I could not believe my eyes. It is a beautiful Book and much larger than I expected, which was a good thing. You can tell it was crafted, using the best materials. The illustrations are excellent! The story is the same, but ends a little differently than the song, sort of. Since the story is told using the lyrics to the song, the words in the book end as the original song lyrics end. In order to soften the blow of this eye moistening tale, the illustrations on the end pages depict a little girl meeting Puff. I am glad they did that, no one wants to read a story to a child that will make them cry themselves to sleep.
The accompanying CD was also put together nicely. Track 1 is a revised version of Puff The Magic Dragon. The style is still Folk, but a more upbeat than the original classic. Track 2 is Froggie Went A courtin’ and is a song about Frog. who wishes to marry Miss Mousey but can’t without Uncle Rats permission and finishes with their wedding supper and wedding. Track 3 is labeled, The Blue Tail Fly, which I recognized as “Jimmy Cracked Corn.” Track 4 is the new version of Puff The Magic Dragon, produced as an instrumental.
Many people are familiar with this song and the controversy that surrounds it has never faded. It is widely believed that this song was written about Marijuana. “Puff,” was thought to be referring smoking pot; “Jackie Paper,” meant rolling papers, and I even heard that “lived by the sea, eluded to sea-“weed” and the list goes on. That having been said, Peter Yarrow has denied this vehemently, and insists that the song means nothing more than the actual lyrics suggest. He even went as far as to create a marijuana interpretation for the song, “Star-Spangled- Banner,” to prove his point and said, “…You can wreck anything with that kind of idiotic analysis.” I agree, wholeheartedly! Regardless of your beliefs, this makes the top of my list for the best gift at the best buy, for any and all occasions. I highly recommend it for anyone, any age, anywhere. This is one book, set, all collectors should have in their collection.