________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 1 . . . . September 1, 2006


The Raven. (Visions in Poetry).

Edgar Allen Poe. Illustrated by Ryan Price.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2006.
48 pp., cloth, $18.95.
ISBN 1-55337-473-8.

Subject Headings:
Children’s poetry, American.
Fantasy poetry, American.

Grades 8 and up / Ages 13 and up.

Review by Gregory Bryan.

**** /4


Ah, distinctly I remember it was in
the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember
wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;
—vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow
—sorrow for the lost Lenore—

The KCP Poetry “Visions in Poetry” series has done it again. Yet another classic poem beautifully presented with black cloth wrapping the spine and featuring stunning illustrations from first page to last. The fifth book in the “Visions in Poetry” series is Edgar Allan Poe’s haunting, The Raven. The new book is a worthy successor to the superb preceding presentations of Jabberwocky (2004), The Highwayman (2005), The Lady of Shalott (2005), and Casey at the Bat (2006).

     The Raven was first published in 1845, but the protagonist’s torment over a lost love is still relevant over a century and a half later. What’s more, despite our claims of modern-day sophistication, there remain few things as appealing as a ghost story well told. Edgar Allan Poe remains as relevant in the Twenty-first Century as ever before. Well might Poe have penned this poem not a century and a half ago, but a day and a half.

internal art

     At midnight on a bleak December, a man pores over his books, seeking release from his love-lost sorrow. The tapping of a raven at his chamber door interrupts his study. Entreated as to the purpose of the visit, quoth the raven, “Nevermore.” His feathered interloper then leads the man into the shadowed abyss of his troubled mind.

     The illustrations for The Raven were created by Ryan Price, using the drypoint printmaking technique. This intaglio printmaking technique is similar to etching, but instead of using acid to fashion an image into a copper plate, the artist uses a variety of sharp-pointed tools to do so. The copper plate is then inked and run through a printing press.

     Price’s illustrations are appropriately dark and grim. There is nothing lightweight or merry about a descent into madness. The artist’s crosshatch shadows, absence of colour, and the overwhelming presence of the raven visitor all stir the dark recesses of the mind, evoking feelings of insecurity and uncertainty perfect for a foray with Poe.

     Hearty congratulations to Kids Can Press for the “Visions in Poetry” series. This is a landmark performance taking Canadian children’s literature to new heights. Perhaps not since Lucy Maud Montgomery dreamed of a redheaded girl named Anne has Canadian literature for children seen something of such significance.

     Ryan Price’s first book is a guaranteed winner.

Highly Recommended

Gregory Bryan, who teaches language arts and children’s literature in the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba, is hoping that Kids Can Press will one day add “The Man from Snowy River” or “Clancy of the Overflow” to the “Visions in Poetry” series.

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

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
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