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The Forest Queen by Betsy Cornwell


The Forest Queen by Betsy Cornwell isn’t ‘just’ a Robin Hood retelling, it also serves up strong lady friendships, and a sharp look at power and privilege. (Transcript)



In today’s episode…

In The Forest Queen, sixteen year old Silvie has been born into a life of nobility and privilege. She has spent her entire life hating and fearing her cruel brother John and hiding from his wrath with her closest friend, a commoner nicknamed Bird. When Silvie and Bird come across another person turned away from her own home, Little Jane, they make a plan to escape into the forest. With Little Jane and midwife Mae Tuck, they build a community in the forest and in harmony with nature. Silvie only wanted to save herself, but as their community grows, she has to choose whether to continue to live in secret apart from the kingdom, or to stand up to her family and everything the nobility stands for.




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Episode highlights…


*1:03 A mystery from episode 12 Stay Sweet is solved! 

*5:46 We compare Betsy Cornwell’s writing to that of Gail Carson Levine (author of Ella Enchanted and other fairytale re-imaginings)
*3:36 This book is so much more than ‘just’ another retelling.


Things We Like A Latte

Danielle –  Star-Touched Stories by Roshani Chokshi

Claire –  Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith by Jon Krakauer

Amanda – Hassan Minaj’s stand-up special, Homecoming King


UP NEXT:  Fresh Ink: An Anthology edited by Lamar GilesPre-order your copy today!



*12:49 How this book addresses privilege, and a call-back to our Children of Blood and Bone episode 

*15:45 Sylvie’s brother John is the cruel Sherrif of Loughsley …

*18:27 … and is also a  “Nice Guy”

*19:59 We loved the portrayal of pregnancy and motherhood in this book

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More ideas and resources for teachers and librarians…

Here at the YA Cafe podcast we *love* fairy tale re-imaginings, and they work so well in the classroom setting. For more ideas and examples you can check out Danielle’s blog post about Girls Made of Glass and Snow by Melissa Bashardoust, or our episodes on The Hazelwood by Melissa Albert and Jek/Hyde by Amy Ross.

25 Forest Queen Betsy Cornwell

Get in touch with us on Instagram and Twitter at @yacafepodcast or email us at We look forward to hearing from you!




Hosts: Danielle Hall (who blogs at

          & Amanda Thrasher (a booklover extraordinaire)

Guests: Claire Nauman, writer and production assistant

Producer: Leila Hobbs

Music: Matt McCammon


Many thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers for the review copy!

1 Comment

  • YA Cafe Podcast: Blanca & Roja
    October 19, 2018 at 9:01 am

    […] challenge and (hopefully) fascinate students. Another favorite that we featured on the podcast is Betsy Cornwell’s The Forest Queen (ep 25), which is a genderswapped Robin Hood with a focus on social […]


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