In Outlaw Girl of Sherwood Forest*, the first book in Nancy Springer’s* Rowan Hood* series, Rosemary, daughter of Celandine the woodwife, is out gathering coltsfoot when horsemen attack Celandine. Ro returns home as quickly as she is able, only to find that their cottage is burned down and her mother is dead.
Ro has no one to turn to except her outlaw father in Sherwood Forest, whom she has never seen. She decides that she should go to Sherwood, a good month’s walk away, even if it’s only to find out what sort of father Robin Hood is.
Ro disguises herself as a boy, changes her name to Rowan, and with bow in hand, sets off toward Sherwood. She is soon joined by Tykell, a wolf-dog who stays with Rowan. They are well on their way when Guy of Gisborn, an outlaw hunter, takes offense at her weapons. Rowan escapes with Tykell’s help, but Guy warns her that he will be watching for her.
At the forest she finally meets Robin and finds that the songs sung by bards are true: He is a trickster with a good heart. Even though he refuses Rowan’s request to join his band, he does care about her, and watches out for her after they meet Lionel, a seven-foot-tall minstrel who has a voice like Orpheus’s, and Ettarde, a princess who elected to become an outlaw rather than be forced to marry.
Soon after, Robin is playing a prank on the Sheriff of Nottingham when the Sheriff recognises him and throws him in jail. Lionel and Ettarde agree to help Rowan rescue him, but Guy of Gisborn is there. Can the teens get Robin out before Guy decides to collect the bounty on them?
Rowan Hood: Outlaw Girl of Sherwood Forest is a fabulous start to the Tales of Rowan Hood. Nancy Springer is an excellent writer who kept me hooked until the last page, and I immediately wanted to read the other Tales of Rowan Hood: Lionclaw* (review here); Outlaw Princess of Sherwood* (review here); Wild Boy*; and Rowan Hood Returns*. Rowan herself is a heroine to admire, as she is adventurous and compassionate, much like her father. I will gladly push this book into the hands of anyone who enjoys the Robin Hood legends.
*Links to Amazon.