What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that author Peter Abrahams has won Edgar Awards for both adult and young adult mysteries. Robbie Forester is a great, age-appropriate adventure with diverse, intriguing kids -- and magical powers that frustrate and teach as much as they deliver unique advantage. The good guys -- kids, adults, and a dog -- are flawed and often given to misunderstandings among themselves, but with or without supernatural assistance, their kind hearts, community spirit, and loyalty serve them all well. Expect some scenes of peril; arson also figures in the story.
What's the story?
Twelve-year-old Robbie Forester is racing to school as usual when she notices that the homeless woman who's usually at the subway entrance has collapsed and runs to her aid. As the old lady is bundled into an ambulance, she drops a charm bracelet, which Robbie picks up and tries in vain to return. Before long, the bracelet turns out to have something of a mind of its own in bringing Robbie together with a band of new friends -- tall, elegant Ashanti; stuttering artistic prodigy Toussaint, better known as Tut-Tut; and homeschooled Silas, who can do anything with electronics. As the need arises, the bracelet confers particular superpowers on each member of this merry band, who come up against unexpected skullduggery and villains with smiling faces as they try to right many neighborhood wrongs.
Is it any good?
Peter Abrahams is an accomplished, multi-award-winning storyteller who's written acclaimed work for both adult and young audiences for years, so it's no surprise that ROBBIE FORESTER AND THE OUTLAWS OF SHERWOOD ST. has a lot to recommend it. The characters are engaging, the plot moves along nicely, and there's a lot of intriguing detail on many subjects, from history to Thai food, that's likely to send young readers off on their own explorations just for fun.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about what Robbie says about what to do if a drug dealer talks to you on the street: "Keep walking and ignore him completely." Do you have to deal with these guys where you live?
One of the characters in the book lost his whole family in a storm when, as refugees, they tried to reach the U.S. by boat from Haiti. What do you know about Haiti and the conditions there, and why people might be so desperate to leave that they'd risk their lives?
Robbie and Ashanti's parents ultimately send them to private school, while Tut-Tut stays in public school. Silas, meanwhile, is homeschooled. How do the differences in their education matter in the story? How does it make a difference in what each kid knows and what each kid can do?
Robbie's parents, who are kindly and socially conscious, tell her not to give money to the homeless, but she's snuck spare change to the old woman at the subway station a couple of times. Likewise, she and her friends will, if the situation absolutely calls for it, deceive their parents. Do you think it's ever OK to go against your parents' rules?