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The Highwayman [Paperback]

Alfred Noyes
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 18 2003
Alfred Noyes's famous poem still has the power to thrill us as we read the story of the highwayman and his doomed love for Bess, the landlord's black-eyed daughter. Charles Keeping's stunning illustrations won this book the Kate Greenaway Medal in 1982. The paperback is now reissued with a new cover.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Noyes's famous poem about a beautiful woman who dies (with her breast "shattered . . . drenched with her own red blood") to save her lover, who is, in turn, shot down "like a dog on the highway," is not for the faint-hearted--and surely not for four-to-eight-year-olds, as this edition recommends. But Waldman's watercolors, both abstract and realistic, capture the haunting, tragic spirit of the text. His broad palette glows, and his frequent use of shadow and silhouette is magnificent. The illustrations of the poem's horrific ending are not graphic: the artist wisely lets the power of Noyes's words dominate here, as they should. For older readers, this unusual--and triumphant--treatment provides a striking introduction to an epic work. Ages 4-8.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 3 Up-- Noyes' familiar ballad of love, betrayal, and death is given vivid iteration in Waldman's watercolor paintings. Unlike versions by Charles Mikolaycak (Lothrop, 1983) and Charles Keeping (Oxford, 1987), these illustrations are richly colored with green and lavender moors and cloud-filled skies of blue and black. Despite this use of color, the effect is stylized and design supercedes realism. The dynamic shapes of hills and clouds are contained within fine black lines; and trees, leaves, and birds are shown in silhouette. The pages are tightly bordered at the bottom and sides but flow freely from the top to form wind-blown trees and racing clouds. The framing is occasionally broken for dramatic effect: Bess' hair cascades outside one margin; a musket handle breaks through another; and, in the moment of Bess' death, the moors change to a crimson that spills from the frame like drops of blood. One of the more successful aspects of the style is the deliberate abstraction of most of the characters. While the portrayal of the highwayman on his rearing horse is outrageously romantic, he is primarily seen in silhouette, his face only hinted at. Tim the ostler is barely noticed--his white face is the blank space on which is printed the text of his discovery of Bess' love. The soldiers are mere shapes and shadows. The only exception to this treatment is Bess, an idealized beauty in full color. This seems an unfortunate choice since the realism breaks the mood and weakens the tension felt throughout the rest of the book. The strong sense of atmosphere and dramatic use of design reinforce the melodrama of the story, and these illustrations will attract readers to Noyes' perennial favorite. --Eleanor K. MacDonald, Beverly Hills Public Library
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite Poem June 8 2004
Format:Paperback
This poem never fails to thrill me - my mother used to read is to us as kids and I did it as the poem in my matric final.
I am now a grandmother and shall read it to my grandchildren and hope that they enjoy it as much as I did, although I doubt that they shall know what a highwayman is !!
It is a classic that will never die .
Cecelia Pestana Johannesburg South Africa
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5.0 out of 5 stars This is a great poem Feb. 13 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I'm a freshman in highschool and this is definately one of the best poems i have read. A lot of people haven't read or even heard of it and this surprises me a lot. This poem is very deep and I think you have to read it a couple times to really appreciate the rhyme scheme and the "plot" of the poem. I would highly suggest reading it!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great May 22 2001
Format:Paperback
This book offered a wonderful protrail of the classic by alfred noyes. The pictures within 'the highwayman' are great, they have been wonderfuly drawn by Charles Keeping to portray the fantasic poem that has won the hearts of so many.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A CLASSIC Oct. 25 1999
Format:Paperback
Interesting visual interpretation of a classic. I remember being introduced to this poem in junior high (over 20 years ago!) as an example of the "anti-hero". Readers may also be interested in Loreena McKennitt's musical version of this poem on her "Book of Secrets" CD.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  21 reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars dark story March 3 2005
By Melissa Sack - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Library Binding
This book is actually a famous poem by the prolific poet Alfred Noyes. This particular poem is about the love between an American soldier and his bride-to-be in the Revolutionary era of the 1770's. It is a graphic and sad tale of the sacrifices that people will make for true love. The central theme of the story is the British soldiers taking hostage the love of the "Highwayman." The soldiers use her as bait to draw him out so that he could be murdered. Instead of submitting herself to this mission, though, she gives up her life by shooting herself with a gun, just in time to warn her love of the danger that he was being drawn to. The rest of the story deals with the decision between protecting the life that his love sacrificed for and honoring the life of the lover that he has lost.

The illustrations utilize dark colors, shadows, and details (and lack thereof) to bring the mood of the poem to life. The words themselves also do a great job of creating the atmosphere of a tragic love affair that is destined for an unhappy ending.

While this book is a "picture" book, the themes of death, suicide, and murder prove too much for a younger audience. This poem is typically one that it is read by High School and College students, not by young readers. The poem is difficult to understand if just read casually, as it must be considered and pondered about in great detail. I would recommend it to readers who are mature enough to handle the themes of this
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Amazing Poem from a Little Known Author June 14 1999
By Matthew Teng - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Although I did not read the book "Highwayman", I have read the poem from a website on the internet. I am amazed that few people have reviewed this poem. The Highwayman is one of the best poems I have ever read and is truly remarkable in that it appeals to people of all agaes. Although it may well be considered a work for children, I believe that the full impact of Noyes's imagery and the subtle messages of the poem can only be fully appreciated my the mature mind. I recommend this poem to anyone interested in history and/or historical fiction.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars December_Me Oct. 25 2002
By "december_me" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I originaly read this poem in a book of collected childrens stories and poems (which I am still trying to find again; there in a series of red-bound books), and to see it resurface again, from both Loreena McKennitt's song to this book, is fantastic! A wonderfull poem that has so many sides to it. I am glad I found it again and I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a great poem Feb. 13 2004
A Kid's Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I'm a freshman in highschool and this is definately one of the best poems i have read. A lot of people haven't read or even heard of it and this surprises me a lot. This poem is very deep and I think you have to read it a couple times to really appreciate the rhyme scheme and the "plot" of the poem. I would highly suggest reading it!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Picture Book? YES! For Young Kids? NO! June 11 2007
By Susan K. Schoonover - Published on Amazon.com
This is an example of a picture book that is great to use in middle schools and high schools but the subject matter is not at all suitable for those under fifth grade. Like many I first read the poem in my seventh grade literature textbook and remember being thrilled and a little shocked. For anyone not familiar with the story it involves tragic romance, graphic death and ghostly return of spirits. The dark illustrations do an excellent job of reinforcing the melancholy mood. I hope this poem continues to be enjoyed by new readers but not until they reach age eleven.
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