cover image If


Rudyard Kipling, illus. by Giovanni Manna. Creative Editions, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-56846-259-2

Kipling's inspirational poem%E2%80%94the one that begins, "If you can keep your head when all about you/ Are losing theirs"%E2%80%94describes how to preserve one's honor by the principled avoidance of political and moral pitfalls. Italian artist Manna imagines the "you" of the poem as a boy journeying through a series of watercolor landscapes: fields under billowing clouds, misty nights, craggy mountaintops. To accompany the poem's first line, Manna paints the boy watching from a great green meadow as storm clouds approach; he stands and watches with a cool head, rather than running in fear. For "If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew/ To serve your turn long after they are gone," Manna shows the boy climbing a rocky pitch, the peaks of other mountains poking through the clouds below. Flying kites represent temptation, and dull-eyed marionettes represent allies who can't be trusted ("If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken/ Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools"). Though young readers may not fathom the poem's complexities, the grandeur of Manna's scenes conveys the loftiness of Kipling's sentiments. Ages 6%E2%80%938. (Apr.)