The Village Blacksmith

Candlewick. May 2020. 32p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781536204438.
Gr 1-4–This is a compelling, contemporary interpretation of a well-known 19th-century poem about a village blacksmith. Paired with Longfellow’s verse, Karas’s illustrations follow a modern blacksmith as he loads scrap metal into the back of his pickup truck and heads to his red workshop in the middle of a village. A neighbor brings him a broken wrought-iron gate to be repaired. The blacksmith’s three children visit him after school, and love to watch as he “swing[s] his heavy sledge,” and listen to the “bellows roar.” At the end of the week, the man walks to church with his family and he recognizes his late wife’s voice in the sound of his daughter singing in the choir. In the mixed-media paintings, the blacksmith’s work ethic and integrity shine as brightly as the glowing, orange-yellow embers in the hearth. An afterword provides more information on the artisanal methods used by blacksmiths and the tools of the trade.
VERDICT This outstanding reimagining of a classic poem will introduce and enchant a new generation.

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