John Denver’s For Baby (For Bobbie) is a beautiful adaptation/interpretation of a famous love song that has been interpreted as reflecting either parent/child or romantic young love. A Sharing Nature with Children book, For Baby contains wonderful brightly colored paintings of animals and people all around the world. At the end of the book, which contains the text of the song, is a world map and guide to all the animals shown in the illustrations, plus a copy of the song and more background information about John Denver’s experiences writing the song. John Denver’s For Baby (For Bobbie) is a touching encasing of a beloved classic love song that will delight parents and children alike. It is suitable for ages 3 and up.
— Midwest Book Review (October 2009)
This is one of the first songs that John Denver ever recorded. It is one of the most beautiful that he ever wrote. In this book, toddlers and parents meet various animals along the way. John Denver orginally wrote it as a love song for a girl named Bobbie. The colorfull scenes from around the world illustrate such beaufitul lines as, “I’ll walk in the rain by your side, I’ll cling to the warmth of your hand”. Mary Travers (of Peter, Paul & Mary) heard the song differently and sang it as a love song for her daughter, a love song froma woman to a newborn child. The author did the beautiful illustrations in this book. Children will really enjoy reading and looking at this book. This book is the fifth one of the “John Denver & Kids” picture book series.
John Denver’s grandmother gave him his first guitar at the age of seven and another at the age of twelve. He loved to sing and play and by the 1970s, he was one of the America’s most popular musicians. Janeen Mason is an accomplished artist, a member of the Florida Arts Council and an illustrator of numberous children’s picture books.
— The Nashville News – Mary Barrett (October 2009)
I don’t normally like picture books produced by illustrating songs. The lyrics don’t often work as a read aloud, or they suggest you should be singing rather than reading them, a challenge not every parental voice is up to.
But For Baby (For Bobbie), a picture book version of the first song the late John Denver ever recorded, overcomes my usual objections. The sunny illustrations by South Floridian Janeen Mason depict families and animals from around the world, meaningful paired on facing pages?a lovely interpretation of the lyrics which express unconditional love for an unnamed person. (The interesting endnotes report Denver wrote the song for a girlfriend but Mary Travers of Peter, Paul and Mary recorded it with her daughter in mind.)
Best of all, I’m saved from trying to sing Denver-style (though this has never stopped me in the car while driving through West Virginia. “Take me home, country roads . . . .”) because the book is packaged with a CD of Denver singing his soothing song of gentle sentiments.
A beautiful baby gift whether you can carry a tune or not.
— Miami Herald Online – Sue Corbett (October 2009)
Animals, children, and their mothers are set together in several different world habitats from the Arctic to Australia, Africa, Indonesia and the Americas. For Baby (For Bobbie) is a picture book version of singer, John Denver’s first recorded song adapted and illustrated by Janeen Mason. Her colorful watercolors offer the reader glimpses of the world wide connections to the nurturing love shared by us all and woven together by the words of John Denver’s poignant song. Share this paperback book with your readers while playing the music in the background for a peaceful, calm mood within your library or classrooms. It could also help begin discussions of diversity and the wide variety of people and animals around the world and how, in many ways, we are also very much alike. There is information about each animal shown at the back of the book, along with the song’s words and music, a short biography of John Denver, and an author information sidebar. It’s rated 3, as a good one for your PreK-2 readers.
— Lane County ESD – Teena Seckler (April 2010)
John Denver?s love song “For Baby (For Bobbie)” translates into a great book. It?s a sweet book about a parents love for their child. Each page is beautifully illustrated by Janeen Mason with bright colors and realistic drawings. Love is universal in the world, but there is a special love for babies. In the back of the book there is great information about the animals within the book and their habitats. Also, the CD has facts about the book and about John Denver?s song. For instance, “For Baby (For Bobbie)” was one of John Denver?s first songs published. This book also includes a fun CD for the reader to read and sing along with. For Baby (For Bobbie) is a very cute book about babies that all ages will enjoy!
— Lane County Book Review (January 2010)
Do you know what the first song that the late John Denver ever recorded was? It was “For Baby (For Bobbie).” He originally wrote it as a love song for a girl named Bobbie, but Mary Travers, of Peter Paul, and Mary, heard it differently and sang it as a love song for her daughter. This book is the fifth in Dawn Publications’ series of John Denver and Kids picture books. Janeen Mason, an award-winning artist, member of the Florida Arts Council, and illustrator of numerous children’s picture books, has adapted and illustrated Denver’s song. Toddlers and their parents will see mothers and babies of both different peoples and various animals in a song and picture journey around the world, including elephants from Sri Lanka, kangaroos from Australia, puffins from Iceland, cats from the United States, monarch butterflies from Mexico, baboons from Africa, giant pandas from China, llamas from South America, and orangutans from Borneo. At the end there is a section with a map and information about the animals and where they live, followed by a copy of the song itself and a biography of Denver. The hardback edition comes with a CD of Denver performing the song. Previous titles include Sunshine on My Shoulders, Take Me Home Country Roads, Ancient Rhymes: A Dolphin Lullaby, and Grandma’s Feather Bed. Many people have loved the songs of John Denver, and they will enjoy sharing them with their own children and grandchildren through these books.
— Stories for Children Magazine (December 2009)
Stuart artist pairs pictures with words to John Denver song:
Janeen Mason translates For Baby (For Bobbie) into children’s book
As you make your way into Janeen Mason’s studio, you pass a wall filled with perfect little paintings of babies and animals in exquisitely colored exotic landscapes. An imposing elephant family saunters into the picture plane in one.
In another, a puffin family shares a catch of fish. Hedgehogs and mice commune nose to nose, whales breach the sunset-colored waters off an island in Hawaii, and mother and child orangutans sway in a forest canopy.
Off the wall, galumphing underfoot is the gentle Great Dane Mambo. Peering out from her dog bed, Tootsie the Chihuahua looks on as cairn terrier Archie hops up on his little back legs and arfs hello.
Mason settles into the seat in front of her computer and begins to talk about transforming one of John Denvers songs into a picture book for children. She is tall and thin, with short, short hair, wide-lensed glasses and a smile that can light up a room.
The paintings on the wall are the finished art for the pages of John Denver’s For Baby (For Bobbie), available from Dawn Publications in hard cover ($19.95) and soft ($8.95) at Barnes and Noble starting this week.
“I started with a map,” she explained of the multicultural project that became a song-journey to animal mothers and babies throughout the world. The map provides the animals’ addresses.
The elephants come from Sri Lanka, where they live at the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage; and the hedgehogs are from one of England’s busiest wildlife hospitals, Tiggywinkles.
The orangs are from Sumatra, the llamas from Peru and the baby baboons from East Africa. Chinese pandas, Humane Society kittens, monarch butterflies from Mexico, Australian kangaroos, Siberian huskies and baby puffins called pufflings round out the group.
Each page of the book illustrates a line from the song, one of the first Denver wrote and recorded. Conceived as a love song to a woman named Bobbie, its meaning was altered when Mary Travers (of Peter, Paul and Mary) sang it as a love song to her newborn daughter. Mason is a member of the Florida Arts Council, an illustrator of several childrens books and a lively member of the Treasure Coast arts community.
Q. How many children’s books have you illustrated?
A. Ten, if you count the one I did on bioluminescence with local Genius Grant-MacArthur Award winner, Edie Widder, which is still shopping for a publisher.
Q. What is it about illustrating a childrens story that appeals to you?
A. I loved being a kid! And I think childhood is a very important time. The thrill of discovery has stayed with me all of my life. I love the challenge of condensing a concept into a deceptively simple story, translating it with color and line, and “repackaging” it to share with kids!
Q. How did you approach this book with so little instruction from the publisher?
A. I listened to John Denvers song, read the background about how hed originally written it as a love song for his first true love, a girl named Bobbie. Doesnt that experience just call out your name through all time? First love. Thats some powerful juju, indeed The song was a success.
Years later Mary Travers, of Peter, Paul and Mary, sang it for her brand new baby girl. It became a love song between a mother and a child. Same words, different meaning.
It occurred to me that I could interpret the lyrics yet another way: the spirit of love that endures. Families love each other the worldwide. The lyrics work in one way for my husband, another way for my children, and yet another way for my mom, who is an Alzheimer’s patient in a nursing home.
Q. Were you a John Denver fan?
A. Absolutely! I learned to drive in my Mother’s 1963 convertible Chevy Nova right here in Stuart. I think there was only one light in town then. Mom had an eight-track player in that car and I would play John Denver’s music at full volume driving to and from the beach! The sounds of his music kindle a brilliant memory of freedom and adventure!
Q. Are the drawings of the people in the book special to you?
A. That’s my granddaughter on the cover, my oldest daughter and granddaughter on the title page, and one of my grandsons inside.
Q. Your use of color is absolutely magnificent. Did you have special training in color?
A. Yes. I do have special training in color. I trained in the use of color underwater. When I put on my mask, snorkel and fins, and noodle around on a reef I am transported. My breathing slows down, my heart rate changes and my mind starts taking mental snapshots. I think, I’ve got to remember that! Burnt sienna next to lavender facing into dark purple and surrounded by chartreuse! The colors on a reef are like nowhere else. When I need inspiration I find it in the colors on a coral reef.
Q. How did you consider John Denver’s view of the world when creating the book?
A. John Denver believed that everyone can make a difference, so he put his feelings into action. In his lifetime he campaigned for social and environmental causes, including Feed the Children, The Hunger Project and Friends of the Earth. These were not difficult concepts for me to get my arms (or paintbrush) around.
Q. What do all the cultures featured in the book have in common?
A. I saw a PBS special featuring an anthropologist who’d studied cultures from prehistoric to contemporary, from the darkest corners of the jungle to congested urban areas. Cultures which would not have the opportunity to meet, or share ideas. I was fascinated to learn the number one thing we all share and have throughout time is we all need to know that someone is going to miss us if we don’t come home at night.
Q. What will children learn from this book?
A. That love is universal.
— Stuart News (TC Palm) – Marilyn Bauer (September 24, 2009)
For Baby (For Bobbie) is a picture book based on John Denver’s song with the same title. In this book, the poetic song is interpreted as a love song from a parent to a newborn baby. The pictures show human and animal parents with their babies in different places around the world, from elephants in the jungle to penguins in the arctic. The illustrations bring a new meaning to the song by showing the universal theme of love between parent and child, both around the world and across different species.
— Oneota Reading Journal (November 2010)
In the book For Baby (For Bobbie), Janeen Mason takes the lyrics from a popular John Denver song and creates fitting illustrations for a children?s book.
Cayden: “I liked the pictures in the book. There were people and things from all over the world in it. My favorite part was the page with the monarch butterflies because we just had a caterpillar in our house that turned into a butterfly and he looked like the ones in the book! I liked the part at the end where it tells about the different animals and where they live.”
Janeen Mason?s colorful illustrations, in combination with John Denver’s lyrics, make For Baby (For Bobbie) a beautiful book that is perfect to read to a child that you love. We also enjoyed the educational section at the end of the book about the different animals. The additional information about the John Denver song was interesting as well. I did not know that it was one of the first songs that he ever wrote.
— Kids Reader Views – Cayden Aures (age 5) and Mom (October 2009)