Monday, September 8, 2014

"The Badger Knight"

Kathryn Erskine is the acclaimed author of many distinguished novels for young readers, including Mockingbird, winner of the National Book Award; The Absolute Value of Mike, an Amazon Best Book and ALA Notable Book; and Quaking, an ALA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, The Badger Knight, and reported the following:
From page 69:
When Father sees me, he calls out, “Adrian! Do you know where Hugh is?”

I walk toward him and call back, “No.” It’s an honest statement. He’s on the road somewhere, heading northwest, but I don’t know exactly where he is.

“Did he tell you where he was going?”

“To weed the fields.” That also is true.

Father cocks his head at me, narrowing his eyes.

I try to appear as innocent as a babe. “Look!” I say, now standing in front of him, holding up the rabbit. “We’ll have a fine supper!”

“Aren’t you worried about your friend?”

I wonder if I’m playing my role right. “Hugh is well, I am sure.”

“Well on his way to battle, is that it?”

I let the rabbit dangle in the dirt and sigh. It’s no use pretending. I can only try to make him see reason. “Hugh wants to help his father—”

“Even though his father forbade it? You’re his best friend. Couldn’t you stop him?”

I shake my head. Indeed, I didn’t even try. It was me who put the idea in his head. But he would’ve gone, anyway, I’m sure of it.

Father sighs. “I must try to stop him.”

“What? Father, he left many hours ago. You’ll never catch up with him.”

“Stupid fool!” Good Aunt shrieks from behind me.

I cower, expecting a thrashing for something I’ve done or not done, I don’t know which.
Because of their great archery skills, Adrian has encouraged his friend, Hugh, who is almost of age, to sneak off to battle. Even though Adrian is two years young, he plans to do the same thing in order to prove he's a man and counter the negative opinions of him resulting from his albinism, small stature, and asthma. It would also be nice to get away from his awful aunt.

Page 69 is representative in that Adrian follows his urge to do what's right, yet struggles with deception, throughout his adventure. Although he's scared, he's determined. And he's a loyal friend -- even when it goes against social norms.
Learn more about the book and author at Kathryn Erskine's website.

Check out Erskine's top 10 first person narratives.

Coffee with a Canine: Kathryn Erskine & Fletcher.

--Marshal Zeringue