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Stories of Robin Hood Told to the Children Review by Donna Campos

By H. E. Marshall with pictures by A. S. Forrest
Yesterday's Classics
PO Box 3418
Chapel Hill, NC 27515

A 104-page book with glossy soft cover, Stories of Robin Hood Told to the Children was originally published in 1907. This edition is an unabridged republication of the work, and it includes pictures by A. S. Forrest rendered in black and white (rather than the color illustrations originally published in 1907). Ideal for children ages eight and up, the book includes "How Robin Hood Came to Live in the Green Wood," "The Meeting of Robin Hood and Little John," and other stories about Robin Hood's merry men, Maid Marian, and King Richard. The book begins with a one-page explanation by the author that stresses the existence of Robin Hood as a real person and presents the intention of the book to tell the "how and why" of Robin Hood.

The first chapter contains a bit of background information for the reader. The author offers some explanation as to how Robin Hood came to live in the Green Wood. She includes a brief and general history of King Richard and his leaving England for the Crusades. The chapters are well written and include all of the famous stories often told of Robin Hood. There is a great story of love and a demanding father requiring his daughter to marry for money rather than love, offering an opportunity to discuss a Christian marriage based on love and commitment. The stories include details of those long-ago times. For instance, meat was hauled by horse-back riders in "panniers" rather than by trains (as there were none, and roads were often too bad for even carts to travel well). And a glimpse of the class system is shown in Robin Hood's own love story. Maid Marian and Robin Hood's romantic story demonstrates the desire for funds to keep "a lady" in her accustomed lifestyle. Marian's love for Robin made her willing to live in the woods to be with him. Character should be discussed occasionally throughout the reading in order to clarify the behavior of Robin Hood, who took from the rich to give to the poor. The book consistently stresses that those he took from had taken from others, but clarification is still necessary and must be determined by each family. The very nature of reading aloud provides opportunity for discussion as the story progresses, which is why our family loves reading books together. The stories are easy to read aloud, and the occasional poetry consistently rhymes, making the book even easier to read. The poetry also adds the elements of fantastic use of language and wonderful vocabulary.

The book portrays carelessness in an honest way: "Robin was so brave, that it made him careless of danger, and often led him into doing foolish things." The chapter on Robin Hood and King Richard demonstrates forgiveness. An explanation of "bleeding" patients in order to heal them is straightforward and to the point without being graphic or gory. Overall, Stories of Robin Hood Told to the Children is a well-written book with a broad vocabulary, historical references, and fantastic characters. As a read aloud, the book will provide opportunities for enjoyable discussions about Robin Hood and the many people who came in and out of his life. As an independent read, it will impart some historical details while providing enjoyable reading. Our children from age 10 to 17 enjoyed listening to these stories over our vacation, and they initiated discussions about different aspects as they learned more about England, the Crusades, and many traits found in good character. Our family recommends Stories of Robin Hood Told to the Children and is looking forward to additional installments of re-published works from Yesterday's Classics.

Product review by Donna Campos, Senior Product Reviewer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May 2009