CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 5 . . . . October 28, 2005
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.
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).
Lorraine Douglas is a writer and artist living in Sidney, B.C.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.