Midnight Ride of Paul Revere

Longfellow's tribute to the famous revolutionary hero begins with a stirring cadence that American school children have committed to memory for over a century. Illustrator Christoper Bing adds luminous paintings, historically rich engravings, and other enrichments to Longfellow's poem, tying the fiction into the fact of what really happened on that April night.

History in the making: the original flag blending into the new flag

Bing (Casey at the Bat) once again brings his love of history and attention to detail to bear in Longfellow's classic poem. Even before the famous opening lines ("Listen, my children, and you shall hear/ Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere"), he is busily setting the stage with period window dressing, including faux marbled endpapers cluttered with what looks like original documents (letters that open with an authentic-looking wax seal, newspaper accounts, etc.) plus a variety of found objects, from antique spectacles to a quill pen, seamlessly integrated with the aid of 21st-century technology. He presents the text itself on pages that appear yellowed with age. Pen-and-ink drawings on scratchboard, resembling period engravings, are washed with color cool midnight blues warmed by the glow of candlelight and brightened by the silvery light of the moon. Bing employs the poem's inherent drama. The stanza beginning "Meanwhile, his friend, through alley and street,/ Wanders and watches, with eager ears," for instance, finds the lamplighter flattened against the corner of a house as he spies on the British grenadiers. If a few of the spreads are difficult to distinguish (e.g., "The shadowy something far away,/ Where the river widens to meet the bay" that triggers the lamplighter's signal cannot be deciphered, for instance, and it is hard to tell that there's a "second lamp in the belfry"), aspiring historians will overlook them in favor of the cornucopia of relevant facts incorporated into the endpapers including Revere's original deposition to the Massachusetts Provincial Congress. For more sophisticated youngsters, Bing's impressive volume helps tell the tale of what happened that April night in 1775. Ages 7-up.