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Forbidden Forest: The Story of Little John and Robin Hood


This companion book to the author's highly acclaimed "In a Dark Wood" tells the story of one of the most beloved literary legends of all time: Little John.

Michael Cadnum takes us on a journey through medieval England and deep into the heart of Sherwood Forest. From his humble beginnings as John Tannerson , son of the Tanner, we watch John Little's story unfold as he grows into one of our most beloved heroes of lore--Litte John. The adventure begins on a ferry north of ...

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This companion book to the author's highly acclaimed "In a Dark Wood" tells the story of one of the most beloved literary legends of all time: Little John.

Michael Cadnum takes us on a journey through medieval England and deep into the heart of Sherwood Forest. From his humble beginnings as John Tannerson , son of the Tanner, we watch John Little's story unfold as he grows into one of our most beloved heroes of lore--Litte John. The adventure begins on a ferry north of Nottingham. A thwarted attempt to save a man's life forces John into the life of an outlaw. To escape capture, he hides in Sherwood Forest, where he joins Robin Hood and his band of merry men--and the excitement begins.

Profiles Little John, from his quiet life before joining Robin Hood through his adventures protecting a beautiful lady when she is wrongfully accused of murdering her husband.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
This retelling of the story of Little John and Robin Hood begins with John's career as a ferry boat driver, traces his involvement with and departure from the outlaw, Red Roger, and eventually tells of the fellowship he enjoys in the company of Robin Hood and his merry band. A related plot line woven into John's tale deals with the gentle-woman, Margaret. She is betrothed to a knight for whom she has neither love nor respect, only to find him murdered on their wedding night. Believing that she and her father will be framed by Henry, the sheriff's greedy second-hand man, Margaret and her maidservant, Bridget, follow the advice of a friend and head to the forbidden forest. There they meet Robin Hood and Little John, and there Margaret falls in mutual love with Little John. Cadnum's attention to historical detail is impressive. Readers are given a clear sense of life in the towns and forests of medieval England, dung heaps, stout ale, and all. Particularly telling are the descriptions of the wedding and the feast that follows; the presentation of gender roles is both historically accurate and thought-provoking. Although Cadnum succeeds in creating a clear vision of setting, his choice of details is occasionally questionable considering the young age of his presumed audience. He describes the violent death of a convicted child rapist, includes reference to a lewd song about "the rock between the sticks" and a rude phrase for the female privy parts, and mentions a sexual dream that John has while hiding out in the forest. Fast-paced and suspenseful at times, the novel will be particularly appealing to readers with strong stomachs and the desire for adventure. 2002, Orchard Books/Scholastic,$17.95. Ages 10 to 16. Reviewer: Wendy Glenn
Cadnum gave readers the Sheriff of Nottingham's perspective of the Robin Hood legend with his book In a Dark Wood (Orchard, 1998/VOYA August 1998). He returns to Sherwood this time to focus on Little John. When John accidentally kills a man, he flees from the Sheriff's men into the dark forest. Surrounded by the outlaws after besting Robin Hood in a fight, John expects the worst. Robin, however, treats his men with kindness, regards life as a game to be enjoyed, and quickly wins Little John's loyalty. John is wary of life's tricks. "I do not dream," he insists, but Robin Hood and his band become more than friends and Sherwood his home. The next refugees to the forest are Lady Margaret and her maid, Bridgit. The young Margaret is newly wed to the wealthy knight, Sir Gilbert, but widowed the next morning when her bridegroom is murdered. Accused of the stabbing by the corrupt Henry, deputy to the Sheriff, Margaret flees to Sherwood and is hidden by Robin and Little John. When Henry ruthlessly pursues, John vows to protect those he has come to love. The book is fast paced and exciting yet does not sugarcoat the grim realities of medieval life. Cadnum gives the familiar tale of Robin Hood a fresh look by making minor characters the focus of the story. John, large in body, heart, and spirit, comes to life as does the brave and independent Margaret. This novel is an admirable addition to the many tales of Robin Hood. VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2002, Orchard, 224p,
— Lynn Rutan
Cadnum returns to Sherwood Forest in this exciting, violent sequel to his tale about Robin Hood, In a Dark Wood (a National Book Award finalist). Here the focus is on Little John, an exceptionally tall, strong youth who flees to the forest when he inadvertently kills a man who threatened his master. At first an outlaw named Red Roger takes him in, but the man's coldness repels John, and eventually he leaves him for Robin Hood's merry band. Red Roger is out for revenge, however, and makes frequent forays into the forest trying to track Little John down. The nasty deputy to the Sheriff of Nottingham is a constant threat, too, especially when a young woman named Margaret flees Nottingham to hide in the forest after her bridegroom is killed and she is falsely accused of the murder. John hatches a clever but dangerous plan to do away with both his adversaries and save himself and Margaret. Full of carefully researched details of life in medieval times, from clothing to food to customs, this dark tale also abounds with thrilling fight scenes and gory deaths. John, a loyal second-in-command to Robin, may lack his leader's cheerful dash and daring, but he proves himself just as brave and capable, and readers will cheer him on in this stirring story that imaginatively elaborates on the legend of the forest outlaws. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2002, Scholastic, Orchard, 224p.,
— Paula Rohrlick
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-Cadnum returns to the setting of In a Dark Wood (Orchard, 1998), which depicted Robin Hood from the perspective of the Sheriff of Nottingham. This book focuses on the outlaw's right-hand man. John Little, a huge young ferryman, comes to the dangerous and dreamlike realms of Sherwood Forest unwillingly, fleeing the Sheriff's men after an accidental killing. While on the run he makes an enemy of the nefarious Red Roger and encounters fey and mysterious Robin, who renames his new acquaintance and initiates their famous "game" of bridge combat. John moves from the status of guest to valued member of Robin's merry men, soon figuring prominently in local songs and stories. When he meets Margaret, a stunning young widow seeking protection from false accusations of murdering her husband, they both reach unexpected turning points. John's adventures unfold in poetic language that evokes the beauty and the violence of a time when faith and superstition, acts of kindness and extreme cruelty, existed side by side. Primary focus is always on Little John; the Sheriff plays a background role, and Robin Hood, while an important presence, is most significant for his influence on John, who is both exasperated and fascinated by his sprightly leader as they plan and carry out their exploits. A convincing interpretation of a well-known legend.-Starr E. Smith, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In this companion to In a Dark Wood (1998), Cadnum intertwines two tales, neither (despite the subtitle) belonging to Robin Hood. One introduces John Little, a youth strong of body but slow of thought, assistant to a thieving ferryman. When a fracas results in a knight's death, John is protected by Red Roger, an amoral nobleman who trains him in outlawry. Repelled by Roger's cruelty, John flees and joins the more lighthearted Robin, and soon becomes Little John, his trusted lieutenant. The second story tells of Margaret Lea, a Nottingham tradesman's daughter, betrothed above her station. When her husband is murdered on her wedding night, Henry, the Sheriff's avaricious deputy, attempts blackmail; but Margaret escapes to Sherwood and is rescued by Little John. Their mutual attraction inspires John to a daring scheme to free her from Henry's threats and himself from Red Roger's retribution. Although setting and character overwhelm the plot, Cadnum succeeds admirably in capturing the squalor and casual brutality of the times. John, the introspective giant with the instinctive connection to the spirits of woodland and field, and the more spirited Margaret, barely comprehending her own chafing at the restrictions of town life, are portrayed with subtle nuance. While modern teens may not relate to their submissive attitudes towards fate and society, they will appreciate their aspirations for self-determination. Readers looking for a swashbuckling adventure may be disappointed; those willing to put the effort into a more restrained exploration of mood and character will be rewarded. (Fiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780439317740
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/28/2002
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 224
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 960L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.80 (d)

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