cover image The Runaway

The Runaway

Robert Frost. David R. Godine Publisher, $17.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-56792-006-2

With a muted palette of pastel and earth tones, Lang's serene illustrations of a New England landscape give Frost's haunting, potentially disturbing poem a happy ending. Walking in a snowfall, a girl and a woman who appears to be her mother spy a skittish colt frightened by the weather. As the animal bolts across a field, the poem's unnamed voice asks, ""Where is his mother? He can't be out alone."" Frost's concluding words leave the young horse's fate uncertain: ""Whoever it is that leaves him out so late,/ When other creatures have gone to stall and bin,/ Ought to be told to come and take him in."" Lang, however, answers the rhetorical question by introducing a concerned mare in the distance that takes her place by the frightened colt's side. Lang's collage-style spreads with large blocks of color are tranquil renderings of a seemingly sedate colt and do not effectively allow readers to experience the strength of Frost's words (to hear ""the miniature thunder where he fled,"" for example). The poet suggests a colt fearful of the heavy snowfall, yet the illustrations convey a perfect pattern of spare white polka dots. Although the artist's interpretation may quell her audience, the artwork divests the poem of its drama and urgency. All ages. (Dec.)