Jane Yolen, editor,
(Philomel, 2000; Puffin, 2002)

I never get tired of Robin Hood. Fortunately, there is an ample supply of writers who agree. Jane Yolen, one of the finest contemporary authors and editors, has produced a slim but delightful addition to the canon.

After explaining her own fascination with Robin of the Wood in her introduction, Yolen tackles an untapped chapter of the outlaw's life: his birth. In "Our Lady of the Greenwood," his mother, though Christian, made a bargain for Robin with the Fey -- at the cost of her life. Maxine Trottier, in "Marian," posits a delightful meeting of the young lovers at an early age. "Under the Bending Yew" is Anna Kirwan's account of the friendship between young Robin, Will and Marion -- and a contest that altered the course of their futures.

Nancy Springer teaches a lesson in "Know Your True Enemy," a tale circling the fates of the young outlaw Rafe and the runaway captive, Tod. "The Children's War" by Timons Esaias focuses on youthful ingenuity -- and ponders the place of young people in an outlaw camp. Robert J. Harris, in "Straight & True," describes a chance encounter between Robin Hood and a band of competing outlaws, when discretion proved the better part of valor. A young lad falls into a family legacy in "At Fountain Abbey," where he learns a different story about his long-dead grandfather. And, lastly, Adam Stemple brings a modern twist to the Robin Hood lore in "Robin Hood v.1.5.3," in which corporate greed gets its come-uppance.

It's a slim book and a fast read, but Sherwood is a fine addition to the Robin Hood rank and file. The stories all provide unusual angles to the legend, avoiding the stock tales that have been done and redone a hundred-fold.

by Tom Knapp
29 April 2006

Buy it from Amazon.com.