This book takes a light-hearted look at what happens when a delusional, egotistical animal decides that life in the forest needs to be lived on his terms.
Badger – a very black and white badger – decides one day that the best way to run the forest properly is to exclude anyone who doesn’t behave in a ‘badgery’ way. He silences Deer’s objections to having hooves that can’t dig, banishes those who physically can’t fit into in burrows – like poor Moose whose bum is too big. He ejects those who don’t bark like a badger and then sets his sights on the birds and bugs who are too colourful.
Children might not draw any political parallels, but their parents and teachers will! Suffice to say that the ending will please little people, unlike the exclusionary barriers of ‘real life’. Saldaña’s artwork is perfect. There is a humourous feel to her depictions of the animals that softens the starkness of the black and white world gradually being created by Badger. Their quirky personalities are shown through her ability to portray body language and facial expression. Examine the scene where they are all trying to bark, for example. The end papers could provide for meaty discussion – going from an all-grey wall with exclusionary posters and slogans, to a garden wall whose greyness is softened by the colours of nature.
The book will be perfect for classroom or bedroom discussions about belonging and inclusion and friendship, and the importance of being able to say sorry.