Wednesday, April 2, 2014

What We're Reading Wednesday; Hawksmaid!

Linking up with Housewifespice for What We're Reading Wednesday. I just read my first whole book in months! Thanks to Housewifespice's recommendation to try Kathryn Lasky, I checked out Hawksmaid. (Actually, my choice may also have been influenced by 'how to plan a robin-hood-unit-study-kids-will-complain about'). The jacket says this narrative is an untold part of the Robin Hood story.

I loved this book! It was a very engaging story, and I am so very impressed with the amount of research that must have gone into it. The main character is the daughter of a man famous for his skill in falconry. Something most of us know nothing about, I bet, but which provides the flavor and structure of the whole story. Matty, who will become 'Maid Marian', has a gift for falconry, which is more about respect and relationship than just training. She also has a level of connection with her beloved birds which enters the realm of sci-fi fantasy at the climax of the book. But for most of the story, we have a pretty realistic scene of suffering under the evil Prince John and his co conspirators; of growing friendship, respect and love between Matty and 'the boys'; of a young girl finding support and consistency in a really messed up land and growing up into a brave, kind, clever woman. I was impressed with Lasky's treatment of the Church, another point which she researched well. It may concern some parents that one of the bad guys, a truly evil woman, is an abbess. The last good, just man in England is a bishop, though. And we have Friar Tuck, too. So I think Lasky's treatnent of the church is fair, especially considering the times. The concept of leprosy is addressed in the book, in an abstract way and in a very literal way, with some description of the physical suffering involved and the social ostracism they suffered. However, our heroine makes a deliberate choice to treat the lepers with kindness and to reaffirm their dignity. At one point a leper woman says "my name was Helena" and Marian tells her "your name is still Helena", and treats her with the deference and respect due an older, honored woman.
There is a romance in the story, of course, but it is the sort we would all hope for for our daughters. Friendship, respect, forgiveness, self sacrifice, faithfulness and not one kiss! But many moments of chemistry and a final avowal of faithful love.
I would recommend for sixth grade and up due to the violence of the times, the evil abbess and the lepers. 

1 comment:

  1. I had not heard of this one! When I suggested Lasky, I was thinking of her Guardians series and her Wolves of the Beyond series. I heard her speak at a Children's Literature event once, and she said that some of the battles in the Guardians series are actually based on famous historical battles! I'm so glad you liked her work.


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