The Examiner Reviews Robbie
Peter Abrahams (aka Spencer Quinn) has done it again. He has proven the breadth of his writing abilities and his creativity with his latest release, Robbie Forester and the Outlaws of Sherwood St.
His main character, Robbie (short for Robyn), is an only child. The various characters in the story exemplify diversity, and her own family is no different. Her family is “different” in that her mother is the breadwinner, an attorney who works long hours, and her father is a writer who has published two books and is working on his third.
As a side note, Abrahams imbues the father with quite a bit of wackiness — all his comments about his new book make no sense to Robbie at all, and the reader gets the impression that the dad likes to hang out at coffee shops and “do” lunch with prospective agents. The mom is definitely the grounded partner here.
There’s a lot that doesn’t make sense to Robbie and she’s not afraid to admit it. The story is told in first person narrative, and she is self-deprecating, funny, and often at sea about the proper thing to say or do.
That all changes (somewhat) when she picks up a bracelet which falls off the wrist of a homeless woman she was trying to help. The bracelet is magic.
Part of the fun is watching Robbie and her new friends try to figure out just what kind of magic is in the bracelet. It seems that the magic works when it wants to. Mostly, it wants to right injustice, and in Brooklyn at that point, there is a lot of injustice to right.
A not-so-nice billionaire named Sheldon Gunn is trying to take over a big parcel of real estate, and he doesn’t care who is hurt in the process. The reader will meet the tenants who can’t afford the newly jacked-up rents and are losing their homes or businesses, including one soup kitchen where Robbie and her mother volunteered until its untimely closing.
In addition to Robbie, the characters are all fairly well described and interesting. Ashanti, a tall beautiful eighth-grade girl, is smart and brave. Her mother is a former model with unspecified emotional issues (she sleeps a lot). Silas, a friend of Ashanti’s, is home-schooled and a computer genius. Tut-Tut, from Haiti, lives in the projects near Robbie’s home and has such a bad stutter that he can’t finish one word unless the power of the magic is with him. Robbie learns he is an orphan who lives with an abusive uncle.
The magic is with Robbie and her friends, and it’s also with Pendleton, the Forester’s adopted shelter dog who is afraid of his own shadow. He’s a dog who will only go outside for a walk if a dog treat is promised. “He…cowered against a building to let a Chihuahua pass by.”
Robbie and her friends are courageous and foil the bad guys while braving arsonists, machine guns, icy oceans and more.
Readers ten years and older will enjoy this feel-good story about helping the downtrodden and doing the right thing. Isn’t that what Robin Hood is all about? Robbin’ the ‘hood to help the poor. And that’s just what this Robbie does, too, when she takes the money from the evil-doers and gives it to their victims.
Social justice and righting wrongs are great themes for children’s literature — throw in lots of adventure and some magic and it’s sure to be a hit!
Also known for his young adult Down the Rabbit Hole novel and his adult series about Chet and Bernie, Dog On It, To Fetch a Thief, The Dog Who Knew Too Much, etc., Abrahams has proven he can write stories that will appeal to readers of all ages. Picture book next, perhaps?
This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 17th, 2012 at 8:44 am and is filed under Chet The Dog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.