The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, by Howard Pyle

These days, it’s often thought the opposite of cynicism is naivete, the sort of innocence that can easily be poked fun at. If you aren’t snidely self-aware you’re labelled a rube who isn’t in on the game. The truth is, cynicism is the mask that our idiot youth culture puts on to seem grown-up. There are fully-fleshed worlds of story and song out there that can make a grown man cry without a single note of snark. And thankfully, Howard Pyle has drawn us a world like that, where the sheer joy and innocence of it can prompt those happy tears.

Seriously, only Dylan Thomas and Richard Llewellyn have painted bittersweet worlds as rich as this. This is literature’s Eden.

Forget every other Robin Hood book and movie. This is the real deal. And Pyle, as one of the greatest illustrators in the past 500 years, has given us not just words, but pictures as well, and the best that have ever been drawn of the subject. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read this book. I bought it nearly forty years ago (in a beautiful library binding) and keep picking it up, savoring it, not wanting it to end.

Tired of modern “media” trying to shock you with its cold edginess? These Merry Adventures will show you how the simplest story can get right into your bones and warm you through and through.