________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 5 . . . . October 28, 2005


The Highwayman. (Visions in Poetry).

Alfred Noyes. Illustrated by Murray Kimber.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2005.
48 pp., cloth, $18.95.
ISBN 1-55337-425-8.

Subject Headings:
Brigands and robbers-Juvenile poetry.
Children’s poetry, English.

Grade 4- 8 / Ages 9-13.

Review by Lorraine Douglas.

**** /4


The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees.

The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas.

The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,

And the highwayman came riding -

Riding - riding-

The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.


This unique interpretation of The Highwayman is from the Kids Can “Visions in Poetry” series in which contemporary artists take a new look at classic poems. The first book in the series was Jabberwocky (2004) by Lewis Carroll, and the illustrations by Stéphane Jorisch were recognized with the Governor General’s Literary Award. 

internal art

     Murray Kimber is a very well known Canadian artist who won the Governor General’s Literary Award for illustration for his paintings for Josepha by Jim McGugan (Red Deer College Press, 1994). Here, he takes a brand-new twist on the romantic ballad by setting it in the streets of Art Deco-era New York City. The highwayman’s horse has been replaced with a motorcycle, and the galloping horse seen in his illustrations of Fern Hill by Dylan Thomas (Red Deer College Press, 1997) is depicted on the side of the motorcycle! Instead of King George’s soldiers, there are FBI agents waiting to gun down the outlaw, and the highwayman travels through urban alleys instead of the country roads. These illustrations are done in conté crayon, charcoal and acrylic paints on paper. The use of the grays and browns dominates giving a smoky “film noir” feeling with splashes of red adding to the drama. Sharp facial angular lines like those depicted in Josepha make the men appear as “tough guy” gangsters while Bess is all curvaceous curves.

     The book is handsomely packaged with gold stamping on the cloth spine and a vellum overlaid title page. The text is set in three different fonts - Streamline, Bodega Sans and Celeste - and they all add to the sleek presentation. It would be interesting for teachers to contrast this version’s illustrations to those created by Charles Keeping (Oxford, 1981) or Charles Mikolaycak (Lothrop, Lee and Shepard, 1983) or Neil Waldman (HBJ, 1990).

Highly Recommended.

Lorraine Douglas is a writer and artist living in Sidney, B.C.


To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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