"The Outlaws of Sherwood Street: Giving to the Poor" is the second book in the children's middle grade series by Peter Abrahams, who also writes the extremely popular "Chet and Bernie" adult series under the name Spencer Quinn.
This book continues the story of Robbie Forester, who in the last book worked with her friends to stop the machinations of an evil man who wanted to destroy her neighborhood to make himself lots of money. In this story, Robbie must help one of her friends, Tut-Tut, who has been detained as an illegal immigrant.
There are many problems for Robbie to solve in this story, and it's all made more difficult because she has lost the magic charm that assisted her in the first book. Not only is one friend detained, her other good friend Ashanti is worried about her parents' marriage, and to top it off, Robbie's mother loses her job.
When the evil businessman Sheldon Gunn (the diabolical dastardly evildoer from the first book) comes back into town, Robbie knows he's up to no good. And he has Russian no-goodniks with him. Of course Robbie and her friends manage, by risking life and limb, to thwart the evildoer and save their friend in the process.
Abrahams features Robbie as first person narrator. Interestingly, in Abrahams' latest "Chet and Bernie" novel, "Paw and Order," there is also a first person narration (but by Chet the dog), and the narrators' voices sound quite similar -- that is, if Chet were changed from a dog into a twelve-year-old girl. Some of the rhythms and sentence structures reveal that both are by the same author. That doesn't lessen the charm of either book -- it just shows that Abrahams' writing style is unique and recognizable.
The protagonists, Robbie and her friends, are all wonderful role models for young readers. They are honest and moral, they want to help others, and they are loyal to their friends and families. It helps that the story is exciting and touching and includes some nice bits of humor.
Perfect for readers from fifth grade through middle school, the only caveat is that Robbie's friend's father is having an affair. That might preclude suggesting this book for some younger readers.
Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by the publisher, Philomel Books, for review purposes.
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