Will in Scarlet by Matthew Cody

Mark Twain Nominee Monday! 

Here is the nominee and discussion questions of the week: 

Will in Scarlet 
By Matthew Cody 

The Story

Will Shackley is the son of a lord.  While his father is away helping King Richard the Lionheart fight the crusades, Will prepares to take over as heir to the Shackley household. Then the unthinkable happens, his father is captured, and King John is threatening to take over the throne for good. Will’s family is caught in between, and Will is accused of a crime he did not commit. So Will runs away into the forest for safety. There he meets Rob and John Little. As Will befriends these men and becomes a part of a band of bandits named the Merry Men, Will helps Rob become the famous Robin Hood.  

My thoughts 

This book reads more like a historical fiction then a legend, and it is very different take on the story of Robin Hood! In reader's advisory, I would note three things: (1) Maid Marian pretends to be a boy named Much (2) Rob is an alcoholic (3) It contains a lot of violence.  I was expecting a story purely about Robin Hood, but this really is a story about Will and his revenge on King John’s men. In Will’s quest to get revenge, he impacts Rob & Rob changes his ways to become Robin Hood.

Due to this content, in reader’s advisory, I would recommend this to kids 12-and up.  It is an excellent story, but due to its violence and the character’s excessive drinking, I am going to skip this particular one for my book discussion outreach to our elementary schools. 

Although I do want to note that these elements are natural for this story. It is a story about outlaws after all! :) So please don't let these notes detour you from this book! I just want to note that for the sake of our Missouri Mark Twain Awards & for reader's advisory. 

 I do think that readers who enjoy historical fiction  & legend stories may enjoy this version of Robin Hood.  I thought it was a fun read, and I will be sure to recommend it to my older tweens and teens. It is very action packed!

Have you read Will in Scarlet? What did you think of it? 

Discussion Questions 

The Sheriff tells Will that one must stop doing what he wants & start doing what he has to. What does this mean? Does Will do things because he has to in the book or does Will do more things because he wants to?

When the sheriff comes to take Will away to go to trial, his uncle wants him to escape. Why didn’t Will leave like his uncle wanted him to? Was this the right thing to do?

Rob claims that how you say something is just as important as what you say. What does he mean by this?

Why did Much pretend to be a boy? Do you think that if she was honest with the Merry Men would have accepted her?

Why did Will save the Sheriff at the very end of the book? Should he have left him?

How did Will help Rob to become Robin Hood? How do you think Rob would have turned out without Will’s help?

Do you think that Will’s dad will ever return? If Will got his position back as a nobleman, how do you think he would treat the peasants differently?

Are the Merry Men good people? How are they bad? How are they good?

What do you think happened to Will’s friends (Jenny & his stable friend)? Do you think that Will will ever see them again?

What is significant about Will killing the wolves at the beginning of the story? Why did the author include this into the story?

More Books Like This One 

Until next time, 


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