The Classic Halloween Tale
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
By Washington Irving; Illustrated by Will Moses
Ichabod Crane, Katrina Van Tassel, her rich landowner father, Baltus, the incorrigible Brom Bones and of course, The Headless Horseman are characters Washington Irving brought to lasting literary fame, along with its pastoral descriptively evocative scenes of Tarrytown, New York. Here is the quintessential Halloween story beautifully told and even more wonderfully envisioned in paintings by Will Moses.
Most people of my generation have seen the famed Disney cartoon version, narrated by Bing Crosby with “The Groaner’s” sonorous tones recounting Irving’s tale of the hapless school teacher/ choir instructor, Ichabod Crane and his attempts to win the fair hand of the wealthy Katrina, described as “plump as a partridge”. Intertwined with Ichabod’s matrimonial quest is the legend of the Hessian soldier who carries his head under his arm, lurking on the bridge of Sleepy Hollow. Their fateful meeting is combustible!
While Disney’s version is a terrific accompaniment to Irving’s tale and I wholeheartedly recommend it, please read the Will Moses’ picture book adaptation of this Halloween tale of haunted hollows, imagination run wild with conjured ghostly tales filling the mind of a highly suggestible schoolteacher and a fateful late night ride, “at the very witching hour”, to quote Mr. Irving.
Will Moses, great grandson of famed folk artist Emma Schrock of Indiana, affectionately known as “Grandma Moses”, has definitely inherited his relative’s abilities. He has a great eye for the small detail and a terrific knack for capturing the rolling rural landscape which defines time and place, coupled with a folky realism that are “haunting”.
Rich with the scenes of a Tarrytown of long ago, children will find themselves captured by the tale of the gangly Ichabod but may be left wondering at his fate long after the tale has ended, as Irving leaves it up to the reader to puzzle over his supposed demise.
Don’t be a bit surprised if at its close your children put forth a request to tread the path of “The Headless Horseman.” That’s what great picture books with their stunning artistry bring to the table. They enliven children’s imagination with their rich blending of literary themes, with kids having an easy time planting themselves smack in the middle of the narrative. They leave them wanting more.
This wonderful book will leave them hungering for additional traditional stories and tales rendered beautifully by the talent of Mr. Moses. His great grandma would be very proud!
For additional titles by Will Moses, please sample one or all of these:
Raining Cats and Dogs
Hansel and Gretel
Johnny Appleseed: Story of a Legend
The Night Before Christmas
Each one is a special gem and a worthy addition to any child’s picture book library.