Diary of a 5th Grade Outlaw by Gina Loveless and illustrated by Andrea Bell was actually an incredibly cute Robin Hood retelling. I’ve always been a huge fan of our favorite green hooded outlaw and so it comes as no surprise that I felt an instant need to read this one when I saw it. Robin Loxley in this one is a young girl who loves basketball and has noticed a serious problem with the playground tax the school bully, Nadia, has put to steal everyone’s bonus bucks–a prize system the school uses. She’s got a lot of work cut out for her if she’s going to tackle the injustice, especially with Principal Roberta gone and Vice Principal Johnson out to get rid of their bucks altogether.
Above all else, the one thing that I love most about this story is how cleverly it adapts all the favorite things you love about Robin Hood into the story of a young girl in fifth grade. From Little Joan, Mary Ann, and Nadia (Little John, Marian, and the Sheriff of Nottingham respectively) to the clever representation of King Richard and Prince John with the principals, this story has references you’ll absolutely adore if you’re a fan of Robin Hood in the first place.
And I think ultimately it was those references that really endeared me to the story overall. It’s pretty simple as far as plots go; there’s a bully and a conflict and a main character to work slowly through it both the right and wrong ways. Eventually everything is resolved and Robin is the best at a sport that enables her to win fairness for the rest of her peers. Diary of a 5th Grade Outlaw isn’t overly complicated or one of the most amazing stories I’ve ever read, but it was definitely fun.
The writing level was a little lower than what I would consider appropriate for a fifth grader, rather I would be more inclined to give this to a third or forth grade student. Still, I don’t see that as an immense problem, especially considering what I do for work. I understand that there are plenty of children out there who might be in 5th grade but struggle to access reading at that level. All in all, I’m quite fond of this rather clever and adorable Robin Hood modernized retelling.
I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.