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Love Letter to Childhood: Puff the Magic Dragon ~ Peter Yarrow

July 20, 2009


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One of my favorite songs in the entire world is also the song that unfailingly makes me cry. It has since before I was able to truly understand the meaning of it but now, I can’t hear the title without getting misty eyed. It’s a problem.

It is only a problem because I now have a son and it would be best if I could get through the song without breaking into sobs.

The song is Puff the Magic Dragon by Peter, Paul and Mary.puff1

It is the story of a little boy who, with the accompaniment of a dragon named Puff, goes on incredible adventures (think Kings and Pirates). That is, until he grows up, eventually leaving the magical, mystical world of lagoons and ships and castles. It’s a story that speaks, often more to the parent reading the book or singing the song than the child listening. It begs the question: Why do we let the magic of wonder die as we grow older?

While I’ve always walked around with the song in my head for one reason or another (it was the first song I learned to play on the guitar at eleven), it has, just like Puff, slid from my memory over the years.puff3

Last year, around this time, I was completely floored when I walked into my local bookstore and found myself face to face with a poster announcing Peter Yarrow’s arrival at 2, that day. He would be singing and signing copies of the new book adaptation of Puff the Magic Dragon.Peter_Yarrow_guitar

My son, then less than 4 months old, would have little to gain from such an encounter but I sat down where I was (alright, maybe I found a latte and a bench, first) and waited two hours until the crowd gathered.

It was surreal to be among about one hundred adults (and far fewer children, I might add) reliving my childhood love for the song and story of Puff. Peter read and sang and I noticed that I was far from the only one failing to keep tears at bay.

Peter signed a book for Kai and gave him a kiss on the cheek and well, I just about died.

Beyond the rather impromptu meeting and my lifelong love for the concept of the song, the book is seriously beautiful. The illustrations are soft but crisp and are heavily blue and green, capturing the magical lagoon feel of the song. Tissues are not included, though, so you may want to pick some up on your way home from the bookstore.

Buy this book from indiebound.org

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 21, 2009 12:32 pm

    Serendipity! Don’t you love it when that happens? What a treat, to stumble upon that event. I will have to go out and find the book.

  2. July 21, 2009 5:55 pm

    what a magical day that must have been. Puff is a childhood icon of mine too and I love Peter, Paul and Mary’s music so much. Thank you for sharing that! 🙂

  3. July 26, 2009 4:09 pm

    So cool that you were in the right place at the right time! The book looks wonderful. I would probably get misty eyed too, if I wasn’t precoccupied with forgetting the words to the second half of the song whenever I try to sing it to my son. Maybe I need the book to remember the words!

  4. Gerry permalink
    July 29, 2009 8:04 pm

    It’s good to know other people out there feel the same away about this song! It touches something in us that we know has gone forever and it gives me a big lump in my throat whenever I hear it.

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