"The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas, . . ." and out of an 18th-century England steeped in romance, ". . . the highwayman came riding -- riding -- riding -- /The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door."
Generations of schoolchildren have learned the meaning of suspense, hanging on the words of Alfred Noyes's familiar ballad. "He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there, But the landlord's black-eyed daughter . . . plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair."
Illustrator Charles Mikolaycak's earlier picture books, among them "The Binding of Isaac" and "The Tall Man From Boston," prove him a master of costume drama.
His illustrations bring a cinematic immediacy to the Noyes ballad of outlaw love, betrayal, and ghostly triumph over death.
Mikolaycak's two-color drawings in red and black create pictures that move with the same inexorable rhythm and romantic intensity as the lyric.