Illustrations and Music from Jump! — the Brer Rabbit Adaptation by Van Dyke Parks and Barry Moser

Have you heard of Van Dyke Parks?

He’s the musical genius from Mississippi who wrote and recorded SMiLE with Brian Wilson.  He turned down joining The Byrds.  He’s arranged for Danger Mouse …and just about everyone else.

Parks also wrote the score for a musical and children’s book (along with Malcolm Jones) called Jump! based on the Brer Rabbit stories in the early 1980s.  He followed Jump! (the book) with Jump Again!

Jump Again!

Both books have been at my mom’s house ever since I was little, but I never bothered to pick them up.  I grew up with enough Brer Rabbit, okay?

On Monday I was at my mom’s house in a hazy, food-poisoned delirium and I stumbled across both books.  Renowned illustrator Barry Moser provided the water color illustrations.  And boy howdy, these are easily my favorite Brer Rabbit illustrations.  I can’t believe these books have been staring me in the face for all these years.

I’ve included 9 illustrations below, but there are plenty more where these came from.  Make sure you click ’em for full size versions.  Listen to the title track from Jump! while you take a gander to really do it up right.

Barry Moser's Brer Fox

Brer Rabbit Prepares for Brer Wolf

Brer Bear in Jump!

Brer Rabbit Rides Brer Fox

Barry Moser's Tar Baby

Miss Molly Cottontail

Barry Moser's Brer Rabbit

Brer Terrapin

Barry Moser's Miss Meadows Place

Miss Meadow’s Place is my favorite.  You just don’t see houses of ill repute with big Coke signs out front anymore.

I couldn’t find these books on any publishers’ website, so I don’t think they’re still in print.  Stinks.  We would make a fortune selling them.  They’re just wonderful.

Also, how do we get Jump! the musical produced in Atlanta?  Or, even better, how could we get Van Dyke Parks to play a concert in our back amphitheatre?  Maybe we could bring Barry Moser to the Decatur Book Festival?  Got any schemes to share?

For more on Van Dyke Parks and Jump! check this article from Musician magazine in 1985.

Comments (11)

  • You hadn’t heard of that place? Well, how about They have it, but mostly used copies. But still, if you wanted some for just around the office, it would work.

  • I don’t get out much, Deb. Sigh.

    And yeah, I’ll probably order a few copies for our own use, but given the way our other Brer Rabbit books sell, I’d imagine these would fly off our shelves akin to “hot cakes” or “super hot cakes.”

  • Hey, don’t forget about the third installment in the series, “Jump on Over: The Adventures of Brer Rabbit and his Family.”

    As for a concert in the amphitheatre with Mr. Parks, I would simply send him an e-mail suggesting it. His email is:

    As for Mr. Moser, you should contact Cara Moser (his daughter) via e-mail at, or via phone at 413-247-9358. She handles the arrangements for all of his speaking engagements.

  • Could we use the illustrations? Uh.. I mean get permission to use them I love Brer Bear in the hat.
    These would all be great on post cards and shirts. and mugs and ……

  • There is also a third book: “Jump On Over”. Several times while visiting the Nest, (years ago) I asked why these books aren’t stocked and never got a real answer. That was pre-Lain…maybe things have changed.

    Since there’s only one listed on Amazon (at $140!) maybe it’s time for Harcourt Brace Jovanovich to to another printing!

    The Jump music CD is still in print and should be made available at the gift shop as well. It’s a true delight!

  • Hold the phone!

    Van Dyke Parks did the music to “Follow That Bird,” one of the foundations of my childhood and the explanation for why I will never fully trust Joe Flaherty.

    This is incredible. I hope Mr. Parks plays “Upside Down World” at our fantasy concert.

  • First, I would like to draw attention to Kirk’s awesome comment (#5) which got caught in our spam filter. Sorry Kirk. We would be lost without you.

    Ida Beth, I’d bet the illustrations are property of Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (or whoever owns them now), so …probably not. I don’t really know how that works (i.e. if you can just ask nicely and expect not to have to pay anything). They could probably send me a cease and desist letter by reproducing the images in this post, but that would be dumb since I have basically produced a commercial for their books.

    Amy, I will look into getting it in our store. The music is awesome. As the top review on Amazon says: “Jump! must be the best score in the history of Broadway rejects.” How could we not have it!

  • Lain
    VDP is amazing …great video… and so is this blog. I guess you told me about it, but I wasn’t paying attention. Yessss, we need to figure out a way to include his music, him or whatever we can. Also the illustrations are truly wonderful. I’m going to look up more stuff about Moser.

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