The Story of Robin Hood
This simple tale has the bare bones of the Robin Hood story: Robin Hood, Sherwood Forest, the outlaw band who rob the rich to give to the poor, the dastardly Sheriff of Nottingham, the absent king and Maid Marion, now transformed into the king’s cousin, Lady Marian. Friar Tuck, Will Scarlet and Little John are introduced briefly but have little part in the tale.
The main protagonist, however, is young Jack Fletcher, a village boy, who, infuriated by the sheriff’s demands that the villagers hand over their money, hurls horse dung at him and then flees into Sherwood Forest where, naturally, he meets Robin Hood. Meanwhile, his father is captured and thrown into the castle dungeon…
When I first read this, I thought what a shame not to tell one of the traditional Robin Hood stories but, on reflection, I can see that having a young protagonist gives it boy appeal. A child can always come to the traditional stories later.
Special praise must go to the illustrator, Alan Marks, who has done a terrific job with his atmospheric, smudgy night-time pictures, lively fight scenes, and authentic mediaeval village, costumes and castle. I particularly admired the different angles the pictures are painted from: for example, looking down on the outlaw’s hideout, as if the artist is in the treetops. The illustrations add hugely to the book’s appeal. For children of 5 plus.
I think it was very good, I would like more books the same. I liked it very much because I thought it was good that Jack got to meet Robin Hood in the end. It was different from Robin Hood stories I’ve read before because there wasn’t a Jack in the other ones. All the others start in a forest and end in a forest, this one starts in a village and ends in a village. I like the drawings very much. My best page was the one where all the gang are in the trees, when Jack first meets them. I like the one they call Little John, but Little John should be called Big John. I like the pictures so much because some of the faces are smiling, and I liked the way Jack’s father kept the guards away from him.
—Louis McNulty, age 7