The Only Way is Badger
Stella J Jones and Carmen Saldaña
Little Tiger Press
Which would you rather have, complete conformity or fabulous friendships? I know which I’d choose every time but not so the main character in Stella Jones’ super story. Badger is a separatist and has started posting ‘BE MORE BADGER’ type signs all over the forest causing consternation among the other woodland animals.
Supposedly to make matters easier for his so-called friends he presents a list of activities, badger-like digging being number one.
This immediately eliminates ungulate Deer, and Badger sends him packing most unceremoniously.
Requirement number two is fitting through the doorway of Badger’s sett. In go Racoon, Skunk, Squirrel and the other small creatures. Outcast, and over the wall are large bummed Bear and massive-antlered Moose.
So it continues with further ejections: those of Hedgehog, Bunny and Beaver for their badger-barking attempts.
Of the remainers Racoon and Skunk pass muster on account of their black and whiteness whereas the colourful birds, butterflies and bugs become persona non grata.
Badger is now revelling in his monotonously coloured surroundings; not so Racoon and Skunk especially as they hear happy sounds issuing from behind that wall and spy Badger wielding a paint brush standing beside paint cans that match his colours.
By the end of the day Badger’s task is complete but as he stands solo among the trees a thought strikes him: what has he done?
There can only be one way forward here …
Hurrah for difference; long live divergence and inclusivity; oh and learning from your mistakes too as yes, Badger does finally see the error of his ways in this timely picture book.
There are just SO many ways this can be interpreted depending on what you bring to the story eloquently illustrated by Carmen Saldaña. The gentle humour of her scenes, in particular the expressions and body language of the animals speak volumes.
A book that’s absolutely perfect for a community of enquiry discussion in schools and should be shared and celebrated as widely as possible. I certainly intend to do both of those.
In addition pairs of children could co-create story boxes or dioramas using the book as a starting point; there are puppet possibilities, ditto hot-seating and MUCH more.