THE BADGER KNIGHT
In a nutshell: A small, sickly teen with albinism runs off to battle to prove he's a man -- which he succeeds in doing but not the way he'd planned.
Adrian is small for his age, even for an almost thirteen year old. It
doesn't help that he has albinism, which makes those he meets wonder if he's an angel or a devil. His father is a bowyer, and all Adrian wants to do is become apprenticed and go off to war as an archer. But that's not what his father wants for him. Since Adrian can write, his father wants him to be a scribe. When the Scots invade England and Adrian's best friend Hugh runs off to find his father and fight in battles, Adrian soon follows, intent on finding Hugh and joining him in glorious warfare against the pagans invading England from the north. When Adrian finds Hugh, who is caring for a wounded Scotsman, he's horrified that Hugh would aid an enemy. But soon he begins to question what he's been taught about the enemy and the nature of war.
"National Book Award winner Erskine gives her unlikely warrior a lively voice, and the narrative cleverly upends Adrian's assumptions and prejudices."
"...the unusual setting highlights the message that people aren’t so different from one another; fans of Karen Cushman will enjoy this. "
"The integration of historical facts into the text is seamless ... it is all so cleanly embedded into Adrian’s gripping, often harrowing, adventures."
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, Starred Review
Fun Facts About The Badger Knight
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The Badger Knight -- Lexile: 770L; DRA: 60; Guided Reading: Y
This reviewer was reminded of Lloyd Alexander's work when reading The Badger Knight. Wow! Gramercy! (Medieval for thank you!)
Reader Review of THE BADGER KNIGHT, J Johnson
"The Badger Knight" by Kathryn Erskine
I enjoyed every minute reading this wonderful book ... until I became so worried about the protagonist that I was afraid to read more! But I came back to the book time after time. I couldn't stay away.
Adrian, a.k.a. The Badger, lives in a village where he is scorned simply because of his appearance and his ailments. When Adrian's best friend, Hugh, heads off to locate his father in the war, Adrian knows he must follow and contribute to the English side as a secretly skilled archer. On his own, Adrian faces danger, cold, and hunger, but he never gives up. Adrian's goal to join the battle takes a surprising turn when he encounters an injured knight. His quest to return Donald to the safety of his homeland becomes all that is important to Adrian. To do this, they will have to travel through enemy territory.
As you read this book, you step into a medieval world where each day is a struggle. The story came to life for me through the vivid descriptions of the setting and characters.
The main character, the Badger, began as a shy, uncertain boy and became a hero who was willing to risk his life to bring an injured knight home to his family. Adrian finds that encountering a real battlefield is quite different from sitting at a cozy fire and listening to stories about the glory of war.
There were no boring stretches where the reader simply tags along with Adrian on a solitary journey, perhaps because Adrian is rarely alone! The author was wise enough to put her main character in contact with other people, which kept the story interesting.
I was constantly wondering what would happen next -- usually with bated breath, as I liked the Badger very much and didn't want anything bad to happen to him. But trouble and danger kept finding him.
I would certainly recommend "The Badger Knight."
I thought it might be fun to explain a page from my notebook. This one is late in the process of THE BADGER KNIGHT, a draft nearly complete but with various elements to clarify:
Starting from the top….
What is his greatest fear? This is a question I ask about all my characters. Sometimes there are multiple fears or I’m still thinking about which one is the greatest.
Insert Donald trying to give him/them oatcakes from his bag. (The page numbers indicate a couple of scenes where this could be inserted.) This was an anecdote to reveal his kindness.
What is Adrian going for? How is he different at the end of the novel than when we first meet him? What is the psychic change in him and how has it come about? These are overall questions that require my reading through the entire draft in order to check if the answers are there.
What does Adrian want? And why? What is he scared of? And why? These are constant reminders to myself to be aware of what’s driving my character.
Hugh could bring oatcakes from Donald to bank of stream OR p. 197 D tries to give them oatcakes + they have awkward realization he’ll need them for battle. Again, page numbers indicate scenes for possible insertion.
Work thru the final phase: A+D going to Scotland for the climax. At this point in the process I obviously hadn’t finished Adrian and Donald’s journey.
keeper/warden Need to explain about warden/marches Decide whether Sir Reginald is a keeper or a warden? Has Donald heard of him? Does he know he’s corrupt? Here I knew I had to explain the way the border areas (marches) between England and Scotland were governed in 1346, the time of the novel. I wanted to keep consistent language and decide if Sir Reginald (a bad guy) was a minor governor (keeper) or major (warden). I also had to decide if Donald knew that Sir Reginald was corrupt (he does).
whistle/flute vellum/paper shoes/boots These are notes to myself to search the document for these terms in order to be consistent about usage. If I called Donald’s instrument a whistle at one point, I don’t want to refer to it as a flute later or it’d be confusing.
make clear that D is hit on back of head / in the arm (bleeding) in battle scene. Here I had to decide what his injury was.
need to insert SOMETHING more about lepers–that unholy 3 stone Thomas Since Adrian disguises Donald as a leper in an attempt to get him through enemy lines I needed to keep the theme of lepers present by having the bullies in Adrian’s village (the “unholy trinity”) throwing stones at their local leper, Thomas.
hears wind + it sounds like it’s saying “Ailwin,” telling me I’m as useless as that poor man Sometimes I slip into the voice of my character when I’m writing my notes. :-)
add: otherwise, Good Aunt is right and I really should’ve died in that plague This refers to the opening of the novel when he remembers his (not so good) aunt saying he should’ve died in the plague rather than his mother and sister
When I completed a task, I checked it off or crossed through it. Sometimes, I don’t use all the ideas so they may be left unchecked. Or, if it’s the last element on the page that I’m actually going to incorporate into the story (like making clear where Donald’s injury is) then I don’t bother crossing it off because it’s time to flip to the next page of notes.
Every writer’s process is a little different but we all have to work through edits and revisions. That’s what helps to perfect a story so it can make it to the printed (or electronic) page. Happy writing (and revising)!