Saturday 2 June 2012

Saturday Spotlight: Outlaw by Michael Morpurgo

Saturday Spotlight is a new feature where I'm showcasing some of the books I've reviewed for The Bookbag by posting reviews here for the first time. I'm trying to use it to promote books which people may have missed originally.

Have you heard of Robin Hood? Of course you have. Have you heard of Michael Morpurgo? I’m guessing the answer to that one is yes as well. This new version of one of England’s most famous legends, told by one of the country’s most popular authors, is surely a can’t miss prospect, isn’t it?

It is, of course. Morpurgo brings his usual wonderful writing style to classic characters such as Robin himself, the evil Sheriff of Nottingham, Maid Marian, and the rest and brings them vividly to life. Other than a short framing story there are few parts here that an adult won’t have read before, or at least seen on screen, but the author makes the age old tales such as the archery contest, Little John’s introduction to the merry men, and Friar Tuck and Robin carrying each other across the river seem somehow fresh with his skilful handling.

Anyway, as much as adults might enjoy Morpurgo, he’s never been writing for us. He is a children’s author who knows exactly what children want to read, and this is a book to truly enchant youngsters who don’t know the old stories. Robin is a brilliant hero, brave, loyal, but with enough flaws to be interesting, and the supporting cast are drawn superbly. The Sheriff and Guy of Gisbourne are truly vile antagonists, Marian is a love interest to be cherished, and the rest of the Merry Men each feel like real people. It's also, as you'd expect if you have any experience of Morpurgo's writing, really easy to read - and hard to put down!

I doubt I need to mention this - I have a feeling most people who love children's books will have seen that it's Morpurgo and Robin Hood and rushed out to buy it without even reading the body of the review! - but if I haven't made it clear enough, strong recommendation here.

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