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PAUL REVERE’S RIDE by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow & illustrated by Monica Vachula

Age Range: 7 - 12

Pub Date: March 1st, 2003
ISBN: 1-56397-799-0
Publisher: Boyds Mills

They don’t write ‘em like this any more, which is too bad, as Longfellow gave stirring life to a small part of the Revolutionary War and made a silversmith a legend in a poem that has proven extremely popular to illustrators. As historian Jayne Triber’s note indicates, Revere was a spy as well as a silversmith and the ride was carefully planned, so Longfellow’s verse is not historically accurate. But it is still a terrific read-aloud, as the rhythm and rhyme propel the story, printed here on textured, linen-like paper opposite Vachula’s oil paintings. Her acknowledgements indicate that she did copious historical research to get the details of clothing, landscape, and architecture correct. Her images match the drama of the poem: the British ship Somerset, “A phantom ship, with each mast and spar / Across the moon like a prison bar,” is seen over the shoulder of the rower “with muffled oar.” Later, Revere is framed in a window through which the reader is gazing, giving word to a woman and her child in the house opposite. Or “his friend” is lurking in a doorway listening to the enemy through an open window. For all the drama, the illustrations are static, like tableaux. The colors are deep and rich, with the kind of muffled hues that give a satisfying historical cast to the pictures. A fine version, although it is not so powerful or engaging as Charles Santore’s (below) or the Caldecott Honor–winning marvel by Christopher Bing (2001). (historical note) (Picture book/poetry. 7-12)