Title: Badgers in the BasementBadgers-in-the-Basement
Author: Ben Baglio
Pages: 151
Recommended Ages: 8-11
Star Rating: ★★★

Do you remember The Kitten That Won First Prize? Badger in the Basement is in the same series.

The Story.

Mandy is excited to be taking a break from helping out at her father’s veterinary clinic to go on a bike ride with her best friend, James. And this isn’t just any old ordinary bike ride – Mandy and James are riding toward Piper’s Woods to visit a badger sett. But when they arrive at the sett, they find it destroyed – the tunnels crushed, the walls ripped out, and only one tiny badger out of what had been a thriving family.

Who could have done this terrible thing? And do the mysterious grouchy man and his injured dog have anything to do with it?

Cautions.

Mandy has fairly sweet relationships with both her parents. They both work in the veterinary clinic, and she loves to help them there. She likewise has sweet relationships with her grandparents, and shows them all affection. However…

When first speaking of Mandy’s family, Ms. Daniels writes,

Mandy was used to being left in charge of the house. Theirs was an independent kind of family; both parents were very busy people, called out at all hours, running the office six days a week, with only Simon, the veterinary assistant, and Jean Knox, the receptionist, to assist them. And herself, of course; Mandy was always eager to help with the animals. [pg. 4]

When Mandy tries to get plaster of Paris from her father, her father asks why she wants it.

Mandy hesitated. She didn’t want to tell lies to her father, but on the other hand, if she told him that she was on the track of catching a badger killer he’d most certainly forbid it. [pg. 56]

Mandy comes up with a compromise – a way of telling the truth artistically so that she doesn’t lie, but still doesn’t tell him the danger of her mission.

Later, Mandy wants to take another person’s dog out of one of the kennels. Her mother tells her that she cannot, reminding her of the clinics rules. Mandy thereupon appeals to Simon, who lets her take the dog. Her mother later finds out and reprimands Mandy.

In the course of the book, we learn that the reason the badger setts are being destroyed is for the sake of a cruel sport called badger baiting. The nests are destroyed, and the badgers are taken to fight to the death with half-starved, half-crazed dogs. Mandy’s father and the SPCA agent show up just as one of these fights is beginning. Mandy is there, too.

Just then a terrible sound hit the air – a scream, a shriek, and a long, high howl that ended in a series of agonized yelps.

In the bobbing lamplight she could just make our a circle of figures – the badger baiters. Within the circle she saw two short, dark shadows shifting around each other and then, suddenly, launching one on top of the other. And the screaming and the shrieking again. [pgs. 135-136]

Mandy’s father and the SPCA agent are able to put a stop to the activities before any more violence occurs. Which brings us to another point…
Mandy is what you might call a warrior against animal cruelty. She believes that anyone who mistreats his animal does not deserve to keep it, and she gets to judge what is mistreating of an animal. However, she isn’t an entire fanatic, because she acknowledges that sometimes animals must be killed. I thought that this paragraph showed reasonableness on her part.

Mandy was silent. She knew that some wild creatures were a nuisance to farmers, who had to protect their crops and animals. Vermin had to be put down; it was one of the hard facts of the countryside. But there were right and wrong ways of doing it. This looked like a rather nasty way to her. [pg. 29]

Her solution to stop this cruelty is to appeal to civil officers. This could spark conversation about the jurisdiction of the civil government.

Once, when the animal-loving Mandy is struggling to be polite with a fellow human, her father tells her, “Remember, humans are animals, too!” [pg. 8] This is supposed to help her love people more…

Mandy and James go to a man’s farm to look for clues. When they find that he is not at home, they wander around on his property looking for evidence. Last time I checked, this was called trespassing. They went without their parents’ permission, who later fuss at them for going.

Mandy’s mom attends a yoga class in town once. It is never the topic of conversation.

In an attempt to keep Mandy distracted, Mandy’s mother offers that they eat supper “on a tray in front of the television.” [pg. 129

‘Damn’ and ‘Darn’ are each used once.

Conclusion. Sweet enough with an added appeal for animal lovers.

Review © 2012 Laura Verret

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