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The Highwayman Paperback – September 23, 1999

4.6 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 and up
  • Grade Level: 4 and up
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (September 23, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192723707
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192723703
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 8.2 x 0.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,236,223 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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.
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By A Customer on October 25, 2002
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.
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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
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Alfred Noyes' narrative poem comes to life in the masterful illustrations of Charles Mikolaychak. The stark color palette of blanks and white with touches of red serve as foreshadowing throughout the poem. Even first-time readers can have little doubt that all will not end happily. This is only one of Mikolaycak's many beautifully illustrated volumes. It is an incredible injustice that he never received the Caldecott Award for his work in children's illustration. Of all this many editions of the classic poem, this is head and shoulders above the rest.
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A Kid's Review on February 13, 2004
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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I love this poem. I first heard it when Loreena McKennitt set it to music, and when I found the poem in print for my Kindle, I was delighted. A great, timeless classic poem with beautiful imagery that stays with you forever. Read it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is a shame that this poem is no longer taught in American schools. I think it is fear of celebrating gun violence that has led to the shunning of this beautiful poem, but anyway children love it, and they especially love the beautiful illustrations in this book. Human nature being what it is, this is a timeless poem of loyalty, grief, jealousy, and futility. I made my children memorize this poem -- it's good for the hearts of young men. Suitably bloody and manly (and prohibited by teachers); this poem is cool.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This poem by Alfred Noyes was one of the very first pieces of poetry I can remember reading as a child. Although the poem was not recognized as good poetry by experts it nonetheless was instrumental in bringing to me the peace there is in a good read. The excitement and descriptions in the poem still bring enjoyment after so many years since my going to the Pruyn Library in Albany New York after school to escape into other worlds.
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