Robbie Forester and the Outlaws of Sherwood St.
You could say it started at the basketball game where Robyn, or Robbie, Forester hit the shot that won the game, something she had never done before. Robbie described it as though a beam shot out from her and arched towards the basket directing her where to shoot the ball. Even after extensive medical tests to make sure something wasn’t wrong with her, Robbie realized that it must have started much earlier and traced it back to where she made contact with the homeless lady at the subway entrance. And grabbed the charm bracelet. That little act started it all.
The charm bracelet proved to have a mind of its own, as it always seemed to grow hot on Robbie’s wrist when some form of injustice was happening. The first time was at the basketball game, of course, after a horrible foul call that could have cost Robbie’s team the game. The next time it caused a gold watch to fall off of a rude rich man right next to a poor homeless person. Robbie finally realized the pattern after the bracelet somehow caused a wallet to fall out of the pocket of one of the biggest threats to her neighborhood: Sheldon Gunn, the director of the New Brooklyn Redevelopment Project.
Gunn had started to raise the monthly rental payments of the local tenants in hopes of driving them out and taking over their businesses. Besides raising rents, he also resorted to other “persuasive” methods of evicting residents --- arson. Normally Robbie would sit back and do nothing about all of this; she was just a seventh grader after all. But the bracelet had a mind of its own. Somehow it was granting her extraordinary powers and showing her how to help.
Armed with this newfound confidence, Robbie decides to enlist the help of some of her friends. There’s Ashanti, her basketball teammate, who seems like she just floats across the court most of the time. Tut-Tut is a Haitian refugee with a horrible stuttering problem. Finally there is Silas, the homeschooler, who seems to know everything about everything. Will this group of outlaws, whose headquarters is conveniently located on Sherwood Street, be able to stop the rich from taking from the poor? Or will Gunn succeed in his ruthless plan to drive out the local small businesses?
While one could argue that this is just a modern-day approach to the beloved story of Robin Hood, Peter Abrahams takes it to the next level. He mixes in a little bit of the supernatural, but it doesn’t seem forced or out of place. Robbie is a likable hero, and her band of “merry men” has enough personality and seventh-grade sarcasm to keep things interesting. Plus there is much to be said of the many injustices the poor experience on an everyday basis. Finally there is someone to stand up for them, and even though it happens to be a seventh-grade girl, justice will be served. Fans of Abrahams won’t want to miss this one.
Reviewed by Benjamin Boche on March 23, 2012