Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth. Paul Reveres Ride. Illustrated by Ted Rand.
New York: Dutton Books, 1990. ISBN 0525446109.
This famous narrative
poem tells of Paul Revere's midnight ride in 1775 to warn the people of the Boston
countryside that the British were coming.
In this picture book,
illustrator Ted Rand has taken Longfellow's classic poem and presented it in a way that allows children to understand and
relive this historical night in American history. Rand divides the lengthy verse into easy-to-read sections and illustrates
them with beautiful watercolor paintings. The gloomy, interior painting of the
Old North Church, with its tall, narrow ladder and swarming pigeons, gives a realistic view of the height of the bell tower
and how perilous this part of the mission was for Revere's friend, Robert Newman. It is a perfect compliment to Longfellow's
use of sensory words, "By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,/ to the highest window in the wall." Just as Longfellow uses rhythmic meter and vivid imagery to evoke a sense of urgency, Rand portrays Revere
as a rugged, intense patriot, "Ready to ride and spread the alarm/ Through every Middlesex village and farm." The paintings
are full of shadow and moonlight with Revere leaning forward in the saddle, urging the horse to run faster. The illustrations
also help move the story along. As the verse continues toward the confrontation with the British, the sky continues to lighten,
until finally, the landscape of Concord is shown in the pink light of dawn.
From a historical
perspective, Rand has included a map at the front of the book which shows Revere's route, as well as the route of fellow riders
Dawes and Prescott, who are not mentioned in the poem. There is also a note at the end of the book which gives more information
about this historic event which provided the patriots with a victory in the first battle of the American Revolution. This
is an excellent book to share with upper elementary children when discussing this fateful event.