The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Author, Jeffrey Thompson, Illustrator
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Author, Jeffrey Thompson, Illustrator National Geographic Society $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7922-7674-6
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
Paperback - 32 pages - 978-0-7922-6558-0
Prebound-Glued - 32 pages - 978-0-613-93442-8
Paperback - 92 pages - 978-1-4291-0768-6
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Fusing scratchboard drawings and computer technology, first-time children's book illustrator Thompson creates a series of ruggedly sleek illustrations for Longfellow's classic poem. From the stirring first line (""Listen, my children, and you shall hear/ of the midnight ride of Paul Revere""), the artist takes his cue from Longfellow's expert scene-setting. He orients readers with a frontispiece of Revere rousing villagers as he gallops through cobblestone streets. Thompson then zeroes in on the perspective of Revere and ""his friend,"" the one who will signal to Revere with one lamp or two. This opening illustration introduces all the necessary elements: the pair stands at the foot of the North Church with a schooner clearly visible in the harbor. Later, his approach results in a climactic view of the harbor as the British boats begin to cross the Charles River under a full moon: readers see just the outline of the North Church's steeple and the river stretching before them, as if they are in the position of lighting the two lanterns--the signal of an invasion by sea. Echoing the poem's grave tension, Thompson opts for the dark, gothic look of a Tim Burton movie set. Whether outlining the gnarls and whorls of tree bark or the crisscross shadow thrown by a leaded window on a sleeping villager's quilt, he conveys a visual freshness and clarity that breathes new life into this standard of American lore. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)
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