Will in Scarlet

Will in Scarlet can be paired with any medieval times books or Robin Hood books. My favorite is Siege! Can You Capture a Castle?

Will in Scarlet (audio CD review)

By Matthew Cody. Read by Maxwell Caulfield.

7 hrs. CD. Listening Library, 2013. 9780804123334. Grades 4-7.

While Will’s father, Lord Shackley has been fighting in the Crusades with King Richard, Will has been causing mischief around the castle. His days as a prankster are over when Sir Guy comes over for a “friendly” dinner and announces he is going to take over as “regent” until Shackley returns. But everyone knows his motives are sinister.

Will has to suddenly act like man of the house.  As a brawl breaks out that Sir Guy instigated, Will flees with his mother to safety. They end up getting separated and an injured Will is discovered and captured by Rob (Robin Hood) and his Merry Men. To spare his life, Will pretends to be a castle worker and bribes the bandits with a promise that he can lead them in the secret entrance to the castle to find treasure. But Will has ulterior motives and wants to strike revenge on Sir Guy for killing his uncle and taking over his home.

All the while, a young boy in the gang, Much, starts to realize Will’s intentions. Although the matter is serious, the book is light-hearted and is authentic to the middle ages and their sill debauchery, jokes and slang. The Merry men sling names at each other and joke around.

Caulfield does an uncanny imitation of voices from that time period, including the accents of the peasants versus the royalty and different horrid vocabulary that may spew from their mouth. His timing is impeccable and he has the ability to different every member of the cast. Rob is a drunken genius, Sir Guy sounds like the evil outsider he is, etc. Caulfield even plays the voice of a girl from a different part of the country pretending to be a guy from the area, as a guy himself. Whew!

I thought I was going to hate this book, because I’m not really a Robin Hood fan or a fan of historical fiction. But this was wildly entertaining, suspenseful, funny, and the narrator brilliantly pulled it off. I probably would have liked the book, but the narration makes it even better. It sounds like the Ren Fair lost in the woods.

For a similar girl pretending to be a guy, going on a quest to save the family royalty, and flinging insults, try listening to Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay (YA section).

Read more 2016 Caudill reviews.


Can You Capture a Castle

A strategic how-to on capturing a medieval castle.

Non-Fiction Pairing: Siege! Can You Capture a Castle? (Julia Bruce)

As the series implies, this book allows you to “step into history.” Your challenge is to capture a castle. Here, you will learn about all the parts of a castle… how it is layed out, the people who work there, how it is defended, it’s weaknesses, etc. Then the book covers attack strategies and walks you through the steps. Pair with Will in Scarlet to find out how Will’s castle was captured and how he plans on getting it back. The book is broken up into easy to read chunks,  yet sophisticated enough to point out flaws in the medieval system and how to take advantage of them.