cover image The Highwayman

The Highwayman

Alfred Noyes. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-234340-8

Noyes's famous poem about a beautiful woman who dies (with her breast ``shattered . . . drenched with her own red blood'') to save her lover, who is, in turn, shot down ``like a dog on the highway,'' is not for the faint-hearted--and surely not for four-to-eight-year-olds, as this edition recommends. But Waldman's watercolors, both abstract and realistic, capture the haunting, tragic spirit of the text. His broad palette glows, and his frequent use of shadow and silhouette is magnificent. The illustrations of the poem's horrific ending are not graphic: the artist wisely lets the power of Noyes's words dominate here, as they should. For older readers, this unusual--and triumphant--treatment provides a striking introduction to an epic work. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)