Rating: 5 stars
“Will in Scarlett” by Matthew Cody is an exciting, well-written story about Robin Hood, the Merry Men and a boy who helped it all get started. Having very much enjoyed “Powerless” and “Super,” Cody’s prior two middle grade novels, I was slightly skeptical about his foray into historical fiction. I was wrong.
Cody nailed it. “Will in Scarlett” is a book about Will Shackley, aged 13, and heir to Shackley House. King John and his nefarious henchmen come to Shackley House when Will’s father is still abroad with King Richard.
Will goes from a mischievous young boy to a responsible, thoughtful and brave young man in the course of the story. He learns about the world outside his previously sheltered existence — and what he sees changes him. He decides he can’t stand by and watch serfs barely subsist knowing that they will never pay off their debt. They acknowledge that their children will also live as serfs and die as serfs.
There is adventure from the first page, and the book will be devoured quickly. But along with the fighting and the characters, young readers will be watching as a boy matures and gains a conscience. It’s a wonderful adventure on all levels and one that is worthy of reading.
This story lends itself to reading aloud with a fourth or fifth grade class. The students will enjoy the action, and the teacher will enjoy the many teachable lessons that emerge.
Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers for review purposes.