Roger Lancelyn Green has put together a fabulous retelling of Robin Hood. Drawing on old folk tales and ballads, he’s compiled the sometimes disjointed pieces and created a single comprehensive narrative. It’s a rousing tale of chivalry, adventure, and courage.
Robin lives in the days of Richard the Lionheart, Norman king of England during the days of the Crusades. But when Richard fails to return from the wars, his brother John abuses his power and usurps the throne. Robin alone stands in his way. But Robin proves a most formidable adversary.
Robin is rather swashbuckling. Knocking each other unconscious with staves is the general pre-dinner amusement in Sherwood Forest. Robin does his fair share of bashing and gets his own pate smashed in a few times as well, which he laughs about merrily afterward. Sometimes his bravery borders on idiocy as he goes looking for trouble for the fun of it. But he always outshoots, outsmarts, and outruns Prince John’s supporters.
This is a classic adventure for boys, still a hit with my tweens despite the passing of sixty years (or 1,000, depending on how you look at it). Lots of bows and arrows, swords and staves, knights in shining armor, and one particular kick-butt Maid Marian who was way ahead of her time. But it’s also a good dose of loyalty and goodness in the honest figure of Robin Hood.
Each chapter starts with a snippet from an actual poem or ballad. It’s a great accompaniment to medieval history and an introduction to the English literary hero. The book contains some difficult (dated) vocabulary, but I’d still estimate about a 6th grade reading level. I read it out loud to my tween low readers. There was a lot of Nerf swordplay going on in our house those two weeks, as well as more learning than they realized. Two thumbs way up!