cover image Robin of Sherwood

Robin of Sherwood

Michael Morpurgo. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P, $22 (113pp) ISBN 978-0-15-201315-8

Another Robin Hood retelling? Why not, if it's created by the distinguished team that crafted Arthur, High King of Britain? Why not, if Morpurgo succeeds, as he does, in bringing together the isolated episodes of the legend into a coherent story following Robin Hood from childhood to his death? This Robin is driven into the Forest to join the ""Outcasts"" when his father is blinded by the Sheriff's men. Familiar stories, like the Nottingham archery contest, develop naturally out of the conflict between Robin's growing band and the evil Sheriff. Eventually, after decisively defeating the Sheriff's soldiers, Robin goes on an exciting journey to Austria to ransom King Richard. Robin appears as a heroic but decidedly human figure, with his family always important. There are a few moral twists: the Outcasts are disabled, disfigured or sick people ""cleansed"" from their villages by the Sheriff, and Marion herself is an albino, one of the ""mutations,"" as she terms them. But these innovations are unlikely to slow the book's intended readers as they are swept along by a well-paced narrative and lively characterizations, aided by Foreman's loosely modeled, dynamic watercolors of key scenes. Ages 9-14. (Sept.)