Me and the Robbersons is an award-winning Finnish middle-grade read that was published in 2010. Translated into many languages, it is finally available in English thanks to The Little Tiger Group, Stripes Publishing and translator Ruth Urbom.
Summer is going nowhere and has been the usual disappointment of broken promises for Maisie. A trip to grandma’s was about exciting as things were going to get and was complete with family arguments and Maisie getting blamed, as always.
But before they have arrived at grandma’s, bandits have robbed the car of clothes, beauty products, sweets and most surprising of all, Maisie. Finding herself aboard a van driven by a lady with a liking for speed and a family led by Wild Karl, Maisie is about to have the adventure of a lifetime. An adventure that she has been seeking her entire life and she is determined to enjoy it. So much in fact that when the police, rival bandits and her parents are closing in, Maisie is not quite ready for everything to come to an end just yet…
Given the harsh lockdowns and stay at home orders that we have all had to endure over the last year and a half, the Robbersons bring a wonderful dose of freedom and adventure that children have so desperately been craving.
The Robbersons deliver a thrilling and fast-paced madcap adventure full of hijinks and hilarity. Far from being your typical bandits, the Robbersons bring anarchy and their own unique brand of crime to the country roads of Finland and readers will love being part of their world. They’re not interested in money or valuables, above all else they value sweets, especially the ever-so-rare alien puke, and will pretty much go to any lengths to satisfy their sweet-teeth. Speeding around the country roads, stopping off for a swim whenever they feel like it, regularly indulging in a rather unhealthy diet of crispbreads, pasties, meatballs and sweets, and evening games of Yahtzee to decide sleeping arrangements are all part of daily life. It is a very unconventional life of freedom and frivolity centred around family and whose days are determined by their needs, be it food, another Barbie doll or a new cardigan (captain’s coat) for Wild Karl.
You’d think that being abducted by bandits and thrown into the back of a van would be enough to frighten and concern most kids. But Maisie isn’t most kids and she quickly finds the Robbersons are the perfect counterfoil to her rather boring and all too ordinary life at home and are able to offer her the adventure and excitement that she has longed for. Like Maisie, readers will find themselves warming to the memorable bandits and despite their law-breaking ways it is hard not to root for them. Young Charlie wants to forgo a life of crime on the road for a more regular childhood experience of school. Something that his older sister, Hellie, is completely baffled by. She rather enjoys the bandit lifestyle and has become an expert in knife skills and in giving make-overs to stolen Barbie dolls. She has her sights firmly set on on leading her own gang of bandits. Their parents, Wild Karl and Hilda are awesome. Hilda is the speed-freak who longs to spend a night in a proper bed and Wild Karl is the chief bandit who everyone just goes along with to keep him happy, no-one likes a grumpy Karl. Together, they make quite the dysfunctional team.
Me and the Robbersons is pure enjoyment and escapism and is a read that allows children to live adventurously at a time when the global pandemic has severely limited our own adventures on the roads with sweet-stealing loveable bandits.
Recommended for 9+.
With thanks to The Little Tiger Group, Stripes Publishing and Siri Kolu for the advanced reader copy that was received through NetGalley.