THE MIDNIGHT RIDE OF PAUL REVERE by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Age Range: 8 - 12
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An extraordinarily beautiful piece of bookmaking attempts to breathe new life into one of American literature’s hoariest classics. Illustrator Bing, fresh from his Caldecott Honor triumph with Casey at the Bat (2000), here employs a combination of techniques to depict the events of the “eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five.” Delicate pen, ink, and brush backgrounds reminiscent of early engravings were glazed with watercolors “in the traditional method,” resulting in an absolutely heart-stopping blue that dominates the nighttime scenes with just tiny hints of reds and yellows to stand in contrast. Occasional scanned-in additions, such as watches, coins, or playing cards, are superimposed on some illustrations; these are presumably added to enhance atmosphere but are somewhat distracting. The illustrations occupy most of the double-page spreads, with the text appearing at the sides in boxes that simulate yellowed (and in one case, singed) paper. Extensive historical notes, bibliography, acknowledgments, and a fascinating note on the preparation follow the poem; the whole is flanked by maps of the planned British raid and the famous ride. The endpapers are decorated with facsimile broadsides and supplemented by two foldout documents: a recreation of Paul Revere’s deposition on the events, and a “fanciful” recreation of British General Gage’s orders to his lieutenant. It is unquestionably a glorious effort on the part of the artist, designer, and publisher. The poem itself can be stuffily old-fashioned in syntax and occasionally its rhyme scheme mires down, but the illustrations, which capture both the movements of the British and the desperate stealth of Revere and his friend, help to carry the reader along. Less a picture book than an illustrated poem, this offering may well serve to excite new audiences in a work to which everyone knows the opening lines—but nothing else. (Picture book/poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 1-929766-13-0
Page count: 40pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2001


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