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Kim's Book Reviews
| Home | Picture Books | Traditional Literature | Poetry | Nonfiction | Historical Fiction | Fantasy & Young Adult Fiction | Author Study: Lois Ehlert

by Henry Wadsworht Longfellow
Illustrated by Ted Rand


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.