Outlaw Girl of Sherwood Forest
by Nancy Springer, published 2001
“Her band might somehow help folk to help themselves, Rowan thought, rather than just giving them gold stolen from rich men’s packs, gold soon spent. But she could not say that, for she loved everything about Robin Hood.”
When an author describes the unseen worlds with conviction, and makes them tangible, I immediately know I’ve found a great children’s book. In addition to all the action and drama in this wonderful book, I love that the heroine Rowan is part aelfen, and that the spirits come to her when she is most in need of wisdom or help.
The book has a wonderfully clever premise — that Robin Hood actually fathered a daughter by an aelfen woman, a wise woman who was a healer and forest dweller. If you love tales of Robin Hood, this is a perfect complement, bringing in the feminine in ways that might be missing in Robin Hood’s tale. Indeed, the whole point of Rowan’s own band is that it will operate in a more feminine way than Robin Hood’s band, not by putting his down, but as a beautiful counterpoint.
I loved everything about this book… the writing, the memorable characters, the premise, the aelfen, the wisdom of herbs, the forests, the challenges. It’s just a terrific children’s book. Because it hints at the violence against women by the knights, I would not recommend it for girls under 11.
I discovered this children’s book was the first of a series of four, and immediately read what I thought was the next, which turned out to be the last. I’ll review that another day. Meanwhile, here’s to Robin Hood and his courageous daughter Rowan Hood!