Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Will in Scarlet by Matthew Cody

Cover image for Will in scarletWhy does the Robin Hood story fascinate us so much? It has been retold more times than anyone can count, and each retelling has its own spin.  This version is told from the point of view of the two youngest members of the Merry Men, Will Scarlet and Much.  The son of a wealthy lord, Will is driven into Sherwood forest when evil Guy of Gisborne seizes his family's castle while the father is away fighting alongside Richard the Lionheart.  Much the Miller's Son is really the Miller's Daughter who began dressing as a boy to make her way in the world after her father's death.  When Will first joins the Merry Men, Robin is a filthy drunk, but as the story develops, Will's idealism and Much's enthusiasm motivate Robin to find his way back to sobriety and reestablish his role as the leader of the beneficent bandits.  Other of the familiar Robin Hood character have a new, expanded back stories in this novel. The Sheriff of Nottingham is Will's old family friend until he bends to the wishes of Sir Guy.  Sir Guy, himself, is a half crazed megalomaniac whose unbridled hunger for power alienates even Prince John in the end. It is an interesting and fresh retelling of an old story that has enough swash-buckling action to keep young readers engaged, and philosophical depth to keep them thinking. Don't let the simplistic cover fool you.  This book is not for younger children, and has a fair bit of violence.  I would recommend it for 5th or 6th grade and up.(260 p)

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