The Badger Knight
Written by Kathryn Erskine
Adrian is small for his age and suffers from albinism. Medieval England didn’t understand his condition so many feared he was either an angel or a devil. Either way, he was shunned. Bullies called him, Badger, because of the mud he would smear under his eyes to block out the bright sun. He was often alone, but had dreams of being a hero.
No matter what others thought about him, Adrian practiced his archery in secret in the woods. He had confidence in his skill to drive an arrow through a leaf hanging on a distant tree, and longed to head off to war against the Scots. Never mind everyone said he was too young, too scrawny, and lazy.
His mother was dead. His father was overworked as the only bow maker in a village preparing for invaders and his grandmother was just plain mean to him. Even when he showed real skill at identifying and gathering herbs in the forest and the ability to write out the recipes required for healing. Few people could write in his village. Perhaps that was one reason his mother insisted on him learning his letters. She didn’t want him to grow up to be a bower, but she was gone now and no one else believed in him.
So Adrian followed Hugh into battle. Shock and sorrow gripped him immediately as he got his first glimpse of true war. There was no glory on this field, only blood, pain, and death. His story continues as he cares for a wounded, “enemy” and tries to decide what that label really means.
Kathryn Erskine has done a tremendous amount of research to bring this taste of medieval war to life. Her details show us the rudimentary architecture of Roman ruins, the food of the poor and the misuse of power by officers as well as clergy. She uses the language of today to make this unfamiliar time in history accessible to third grade readers and above.
Her book will fulfill core curriculum standards in world history, geography and literature. Literacy skills can be strengthened by reading the book in clubs, classrooms, or aloud. This will become a new favorite of readers who like swords, knights, and cheering for the underdog.