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Hawksmaid: the Untold Story of Robin Hood and Maid Marian
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this middle grade medieval fantasy has the standard cast of characters from the legend of Robin Hood, but the murders and cruelty hiding behind the
doors of the Catholic church, including torture, may upset younger readers. Lasky’s retelling casts Marian as a very young woman whose intellect far outshines that of Robin Hood, and she is the one who
comes up with pretty much every idea ever attributed to Robin Hood.
- Parents say
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What's the story?
Nine-year-old Matty Fitzwalter is being raised as a proper lady, to dance and embroider. But after her mother is murdered, her father teaches her to read, play chess -- and trains her in the art of falconry. Before long, she is hunting for food with her hawks, just as her best friend Fynn is hunting for his family. When she finds out
that Fynn and his friends are also helping other poor families eat, she
is determined to help her neighbors survive, even if it means hunting on forbidden land. They adopt code names and build treehouses, and soon
Fynn is called Robin and Matty is known as Maid Marian. As Matty’s knack for
falconry grows she discovers the magical ability to talk to her birds,
and when a plot to overthrow King Richard is revealed,
it is Matty who hatches a plan to steal the jewels for his
ransom. This revisionist version of the Robin Hood legend reveals Maid
Marian to be the brains behind all the noble acts that Robin
and his men are remembered for. Nonetheless, by the end of the
book, when Matty and Fynn and the merry band are grown into young
adults, romance has blossomed into true love and all ends well.
Is it any good?
Female readers may especially enjoy the story of a girl being so much smarter than all the boys, and being the mastermind behind a gang as well known as Robin Hood and his merry men. For fans of the legend, the disbelief may be too great, and the element of fantasy that is contrived so that Matty not only becomes a world class falconer, but also speaks in "hawk" and inhabits hawk bodies, may be jarring. The frequent torturing and the evil behind Prince John and members of the Catholic clergy may be too dark for younger readers. The detailed explanations of the art of falconry, including a glossary, are a bonus in this medieval fantasy.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about different versions of the Robin Hood legend. Why do you think the story remains so popular? Why do you think the author decided to write this version?
This book is written by the author who penned the Guardians of Ga'hoole Series. Do you see any similarities between the two (besides talking birds?)
For kids who love fantasy stories
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