Caroline the Future Librarian

Caroline Davis | LIBR 265-10 | SJSU | Wrenn-Estes

The Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Marie Pope

Title: The Sherwood Ring
Author: Elizabeth Marie Pope
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Date: October 2001 (originally published in 1958)
ISBN-13: 978-0618177370

Plot Summary: After the death of her father, seventeen-year-old Peggy Grahame is sent to live with her elderly Uncle Enos at Rest-and-be-thankful, the Grahame family’s ancestral estate in rural New York.  On the day of her arrival, Peggy meets Pat, a handsome young British scholar who is trying to study his family heritage and thinks that her uncle might have some information about his eighteenth-century ancestor.  But Uncle Enos inexplicably throws Pat out of the house in a rage, and even has little interaction with Peggy.

But Peggy is not completely left alone in the old house.  She is visited on several occasions by the ghosts of her own eighteenth-century ancestors, who tell her about the history of the Grahame family during the Revolutionary War.  In many ways, history seems to be repeating itself – and Peggy finds out why there is a connection between Pat’s family and her own.

Critical Evaluation: It is appropriate that the topic of this book is reflection on a previous era, since the book itself seems to be a relic from an earlier era in young adult literature.  Perhaps high school girls in the 1950s would have swooned over the blossoming relationship between Peggy and Pat, but The Sherwood Ring is very tame by modern standards.

However, a young adult book doesn’t need to be edgy to be likeable, and Pope’s book was certainly an enjoyable historical romance with a touch of the supernatural.  The plot was very formulaic – Peggy would discover a historically significant item in the house, and one of her ancestors would appear to explain why it was historically significant.  The modern setting with Peggy is just the framework for the real story of the book – the exploits of the eighteenth-century Grahame family as they help in capturing the outlaw British soldier Peaceable Sherwood, and the love story that develops between the outlaw and the daughter of the Grahame family.

In a way, using the apparitions as a plot device seemed very familiar – similar to Scrooge’s nocturnal visits from various Christmas ghosts in Dicken’s A Christmas Carol that serve to teach him more about himself.  Peggy Grahame’s visitors serve a similar purpose – telling her about the past so she can apply it to the future.

Reader’s Annotation: Peggy Grahame is ignored by her cranky Uncle Enos, and her only friend, Pat, a handsome British scholar, has been forbidden from seeing her.  Fortunately, she is visited by the ghosts of her eighteenth-century ancestors, who tell her about their exploits and adventures during the Revolutionary War.

Author Information: Elizabeth Marie Pope (1917-1992) was an academic who specialized in Elizabethan England.  After receiving her B.A. from Bryn Mawr and her Ph.D. at John Hopkins in 1944, she went on to become a professor of English at Mills College in Oakland.  She taught about the works of John Milton and William Shakespeare for 38 years before retiring in 1982.

Pope only wrote two works of juvenile fiction, The Sherwood Ring (1958) and The Perilous Gard (1971), which was a Newbery Honor Book.  Both novels are historical fiction, with some romance and a bit of fantasy – The Sherwood Ring is set in New York and is primarily focused on the Revolutionary War, and The Perilous Gard takes place in sixteenth-century England, based on the ballad of Tam Lin.

Genre: Historical Fiction

Curriculum Ties: Revolutionary War History (possibly)

Booktalking Ideas:
1) Compare the events of Peggy’s life to the story that her ancestors tell her.
2) Think of artifacts in your life that represent important events that have happened to you.

Interest Age: 11 and older

Challenge Issues: None.

Challenge Defense Ideas: This book has no apparent challenge issues, but if a challenge comes up:

• Become familiar with the book and its content.

• Refer to the collection development policy of the library, if none, see here to develop one right away.

• Refer to reviews available for viewing on Amazon.com.

• Try to get reviews of the book from teens who have read it.

Selection: The Perilous Gard, Pope’s other book for young adults, was one of my favorite books when I was in high school.  I had never heard of The Sherwood Ring, so I thought I would read it.  I also wanted to include a historical fiction title in my collection.  (I still prefer The Perilous Gard).

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February 15, 2010 - Posted by | Books |

1 Comment »

  1. […] Evaluation: Similar to The Sherwood Ring, this book has a story set within another story, and both tales end up being connected in […]

    Pingback by Tiger Moon by Antonia Michaelis « Caroline the Future Librarian | March 4, 2010 | Reply


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