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Summary: While King Richard is off fighting, his brother John is doing everything possible to take over. Corrupt officials helped John by targeting those loyal to Richard. Matty Fitzwalter (8) saw this firsthand when the sheriff killed her mother. With their castle and family destroyed, it was just Matty and her father, Lord William Fitzwalter, an expert hawker.
With a heavy heart, Matty would spend time with Fynn and his friends, all of whose families' well being was being strangled by the Sheriff and his men. Eventually this group of friends decide they need to do something. The first was to get more information. Matty changed her name to "Marian" and get herself hired as a maid in the Sheriff's household. Her hawks saved her and would get messages to Flynn (who changed his name to Robin). At the same time, Robin and his friends began robbing the rich to serve the poor. When Robin finds out that Marian has been moved to a lepers colony, he knows that she's been found out and he must save her. Will he get there in time? This is an historical fiction novel that draws on the legend of Robin Hood. It has potential as a high interest/low readability book.
Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, anytime reading, independent reading, read aloud book, remedial reader
Recommended Age: read together: 9 and up; read yourself: 10 and up
Interest Level: 10 and up
Reading Level: 5.2
Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.
Adult Reader Reaction: This is a beautifully told story. It draws on the history of the times, and the familiar legend, as well. Matty's story is particularly intriguing and will keep the reader turning pages to see what happens next. She is a strong, positive charcter - both for her time (women didn't have "careers") but for today, too.
Pros: This evenly-paced action and strong, well-built characters shine in this prequel to the Robin Hood legend. It will appeal to all audiences.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. This is a great choice when you're looking for books with strong young women as the lead character.
Educational Themes: This novel is for recreational reading. That said, there are factual details about life in England during King Richard's realm. As Matty is learning about hawking and hawking terms, we are too. This part of the story is very detailed and interesting.
Notes: The publisher donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.
Literary Categories: Fiction - historical fiction, adventure, young adult
Date(s) Reviewed: April 2013
Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.