Originally written in Finnish, Me and the Robbersons has been translated into over 20 languages since it was first published in 2010. And little wonder. This middle grade novel is bursting with fabulous characters, humor and adventure, and is thoroughly readable to boot.
The star of the show is 10-year-old Maisie, who is heading to her grandmas for a boring family holiday when she is kidnapped by bandits. The Robbersons are an unruly, unconventional bunch, led by Wild Karl, who loves his food with a generous stripe of mustard on top. His wife Hilda is the feisty, fearless driver of the bandits’ van, while 12-year-old Hellie spends her time customizing Barbie dolls with makeup and stolen clothing. Her younger brother Charlie longs to be a robber (and to go to school). And let’s not forget Golden Pete, a friend of the family with a penchant for ending every sentence with “innit.”
Yes, there’s someone, and something, for everyone in this fast-paced, fun-packed novel. Despite some initial reservations—she has been kidnapped after all—Maisie is soon relishing a life of freedom and crime, remarking “I started to feel that this was what I’d been looking for in my life. To get a move on.” She witnesses the Robbersons’ heists, where they rob unsuspecting motorists of crispbreads and sandwich filings, National Geographic magazines and heaps of candy. She even comes up with a signature crime of her own!
Maisie is an observer, a thinker and an analyst. Her detailed lists, which are inserted throughout the novel, provide interesting insights into characters and situations, and drive the plot forward. When everything descends into chaos at the annual bandit Summer Shindig, Maisie’s lists also help define a new way forward for Wild Karl and his band. Does this future still involve highway heists and heaps of candy? You’ll have to read Me and the Robbersons to find out!
Me and the Robbersons
Written by Siri Kolu
Translated from Finnish by Ruth Urbom
Stripes Publishing Limited/Little Tiger Group, 2021
Originally published in Finnish as Me Rosvolat by Otava, 2010.
Awards: Winner English Pen Award 2020, Finlandia Junior Award 2010 (for the original Finnish edition)
Enjoy a conversation between author Siri Kolu and Little Tiger Group editor Mattie Whitehead here:
Read an interview with Little Tiger Group editor Mattie Whitehead by Lisa Davis on publishing Me and the Robbersons in translation on the World Kid Lit blog
Laura Taylor is the founder of world children’s literature blog Planet Picture Book. She is a small business copywriter, NAATI-certified translator of French into English and member of AUSIT. When she is not writing, she is reading, and chasing after her two young children. She tweets regularly @plapibo and posts at www.planetpicturebook.com
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