Wow. Brock sure packs an emotional punch. A grim, unusual tale of badger baiting at one level- books for children really can deal with almost anything, and also a tale of a family struggling to get by.
People say he's simple, and he is. I know you're not meant to say 'simple-minded' any more, but it seems to me that it's the exact right word for Kenny. He hasn't got all the stuff going on that messes up other people's heads. He isn't always trying to work out the angles, or how to stitch you up. He thinks other people are as kind as he is, and he only has one idea at a time.
Rob wasn't mean. He was something else. He was a psycho. He'd seem all friendly and normal, and then something would set him off and he'd smash stuff up. 'Stuff' could mean you, if you were around. He once bit a kid and the kid had to go to hospital to get a shot for tetanus and probably rabies as well. Rob was on Ritalin but it didn't make any difference.
I've never seen a badger but they do sound to be extraordinary animals. Certainly many English stories feature them. Badgers seemed to be everywhere for me a few reading weeks ago. Constance the badger was a major character in Redwall which I read recently (see my review), and there was even a recent Guardian list of the Top 10 Fictional Badgers- the old male from Brock rightly being one of them.
The old male shifted in his sleep. He was fighting again those long-ago battles, back in the days when his teeth were still sharp. Those teeth were worn down to brown stumps now, but once every living creature feared them.
Fictional badgers are so popular that they are thought to have influenced the UK's conflicted attitudes to badger culling.
Anthony McGowan was an author that was totally new to me. I'll certainly be interested in reading more of his work. I'll be searching it out, and I'm looking forward to reading more from Barrington Stoke- they're doing interesting things with books.