Hawksmaid: the Untold Story of Robin Hood and Maid Marian

Common Sense Media says

Marian stars in somewhat dark Robin Hood retelling. Just OK.

Age(i)

2
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4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

Elaborate detail about the history and sport of falconry, including a glossary. Readers will get a new perspective on the Robin Hood legend, and may learn some things about the true history of the time.

Positive messages

Marian displays the characteristics of a young heroine: courage, perseverance, and an overpowering intelligence. As in the traditional Robin Hood legend, there are messages about being noble, and fighting for justice. 

Positive role models

In this retelling, Maid Marian is given credit for every act of courage, cunning, and nobility ever attributed to Robin Hood, Will Scarlet, or Friar Tuck.

Violence

Matty's mother is murdered, Matty is imprisoned and tortured while a young teen, Robin is beaten, villagers are beat and tortured.

Sex
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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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Kids say

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
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that Fynn and his friends are also helping other poor families eat, she
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is determined to help her neighbors survive, even if it means hunting on forbidden land. They adopt code names and build treehouses, and soon
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Fynn is called Robin and Matty is known as Maid Marian. As Matty’s knack for
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falconry grows she discovers the magical ability to talk to her birds,
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and when a plot to overthrow King Richard is revealed,
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it is Matty who hatches a plan to steal the jewels for his
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ransom. This revisionist version of the Robin Hood legend reveals Maid
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Marian to be the brains behind all the noble acts that Robin
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and his men are remembered for. Nonetheless, by the end of the
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book, when Matty and Fynn and the merry band are grown into young
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adults, romance has blossomed into true love and all ends well.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

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.

Families can talk 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?)

Book details

Author:Kathryn Lasky
Genre:Historical Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:HarperCollins Children's Books
Publication date:May 4, 2010
Number of pages:304
Publisher's recommended age(s):10 - 17
Read aloud:10
Read alone:12

This review of Hawksmaid: the Untold Story of Robin Hood and Maid Marian was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 15 years old Written bygilly_boy January 12, 2013
AGE
11
QUALITY
 

Some suprises

Okay so there is a little violence but it's still enjoyable. You learn about the hawks before each chapter and I didn't know that you could fix a bird's feathers. Although I'm not sure that the line between hawks and humans are thin enough that someone could pass through. There were also some twists that I didn't expect but I'll let people read and find out.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 14 years old Written byPanda Incognito August 22, 2011
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

A waste of time

This book is so bad that it isn't even funny! I don't know how this book got published. I've read stories by my unpublished writer friends which are far better than this. I stumbled upon this book in the library, and checked it out because it looked intriguing. It's a juvenile book by an author that I'm familiar with, so I assumed it would be decent, and it was. But the story was absolutely horrible. My complaints could carry on as long as the book itself, but I shall narrow them down. The untold story of Robin Hood and Maid Marian obviously is going to have some romance in it. But the romance was awful! There are very few moments where their attraction shows, and when it does, there is no chemistry whatsoever. The dialogue is quite stilted. At the end, we have no reason to believe that they should get married, or that their love is real at all. Their attraction never passes the adolescent puppy-love stage, and barely reaches that, come to think of it. The beginning of the book was interesting enough, but soon it was just plain weird. It was difficult for me to keep up with what was happening, because the story seemed to go in several directions at once. Plot devices would appear one moment and be forgotten about the next. Nothing particularly exciting happened, and when something vital finally occurred, it was written in such a way that I had to re-read the paragraph to figure out what had happened. At first I thought I just must be dense, but after reading other goodreads reviews, it looks like I'm not the only one who had trouble keeping up with the story. The main character, Matty/Maid Marian, was an irritating "Mary-Sue" type heroine. She was good at everything and became a falconry expert practically overnight, even though it would take an ordinary person a long time to develop the new skill. Fynn/Robin Hood would make comments about "you can't do such-and-such because you're a girl", and she always had to one-up him. Sure, he shouldn't be demeaning; men and women should be equals. I know how it feels to get left out just because you're a girl. But the story isn't trying to teach equality. Instead, we were supposed to learn that Matty was BETTER than Fynn. He was the poor clueless male who had to be guided along. She had almost all of the good ideas, and pretty much orchestrated everything. I shall refrain from giving spoilers, but the end was extremely odd. Random, unexpected things happened all at once, leaving me confused. It's still fuzzy in my mind. The story was dragged to an unsatisfying conclusion, making me wonder why I wasted my time reading the book.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages

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