Once upon a time (or maybe twice), some 80,000 leagues beneath the sea, there lay a colorful land of song and laughter called Pepperland, where Sergeant Pepper's Band was always playing your song — until the Blue Meanies burst on the scene and chased all the music and magic away. So began the classic 1968 film Yellow Submarine, inspired by a song and hailed as an avant-garde amalgam of pop art, Beatles music, and highly innovative animation. Now that film's dazzling images — and its lighthearted, witty tale — is showcased in a glorious picture book sure to be savored by fans and readers of all ages.
Love is all you need
Twice upon a time, once in 1968 and once today, there was an unearthly paradise called Pepperland. In an elaboration on their famous song, the Beatles and a team of talented artists, musicians and vocalists put together a movie version filled with the groups' trademark word play, humor and psychedelic imagery. When the Chief Blue Meanie, who doesn't like music, brings gloom and doom to the land by removing Sergeant Pepper's band and all the music, it is up to Captain Fred to board the Yellow Submarine and get help. He ends up in Liverpool, where he meets the Beatles, whom he persuades to help by referencing many of their song lyrics. Together, they face a variety of foes, from the suckophant to the Nowhere Man, eventually making it back to Pepperland to battle the Blue Meanies and bring love and music back to the people.
The book, styled on Heinz Edelmann's illustrations, is brightly illustrated and will be very familiar, even if the story is not. As many times as my children watched the movie, I never did, so it was interesting to catch up with what went on! The Monty Python-esque clip art feel is maintained in the book, with the background art being rendered in more subdued colors than the characters, and there is a nicely representative sample of famous scenes from the movie.
It's almost too bad that there aren't side notes for some of the jokes; like Alice in Wonderland, there is another level to the text that younger readers won't quite understand. The story is still a positive one, which will resonate all the more in today's climate. While love might not be all that we need, it certainly is a good place to start.