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What happens when an orphaned wild badger becomes part of the family? A collection of tales about running a wildlife rehabilitation centre.


The Year of the Badger was first published in 1972 to rave reviews and critical acclaim. Such was its impact that it was even made into an animated film in Japan.


And it’s a true story. Nikki the badger, the book’s main character, really did exist. So did the wildlife rehabilitation centre that my grandmother, Molly Burkett, ran with my grandfather, John. Together with their children St. John and Sophie, they made it their mission in life to take in sick animals and birds from the wild and nurse them back to health, with the eventual aim of releasing them back into nature.


Over the years, all sorts came through the door. There were snakes, foxes, hobbies, buzzards and stoat. Yet when Nikki turned up in a sack, my grandparents knew they had a fight on their hands. The Year of the Badger details a magical year in the Burkett household where Nikki grew from a weak badger to a boisterous, affectionate animal. Developing a love of shoelaces and an ability to open fridge doors, she made sure she fitted right in to what some would consider a chaotic family life.


Today, at the age of 86, Molly still cares for birds and animals. Having started her wildlife rehabilitation centre in 1953, she’s got a story or two to tell. That’s why we’ve collaborated with Unbound to combine three of her bestselling wildlife stories – The Year of the Badger, An Owl from Pompeii and A Home for Animals – and update them for a modern day audience. With your support, we’ll be able to bring these wonderful books back into print and inspire a whole new generation of wildlife lovers.

Molly Burkett began writing at the age of 5 and never looked back. Her extensive career has seen her author more than 100 books to great critical acclaim – none more so than The Year of the Badger, which was even made into an animated film in Japan when it was first published in 1972.

Many of Molly’s books draw on her experiences of running an animal rehabilitation centre. A wildlife specialist, she previously had her own television show and, in 2008, was awarded an MBE for her services to wildlife. More recently she has been helping to develop her grandson’s writing career. The pair first collaborated to write Hobby, released in 2008.

Seth Burkett, grandson of Molly, was born in 1991 and grew up in Stamford, Lincolnshire. His first solo book – The Boy in Brazil – detailed his experiences of playing professional football in Brazil. It was shortlisted for Football Book of the Year at the British Sport Book Awards and led to him working as a ghostwriter on two other books. He recently released his first children’s book: No Final Whistle.

Mum was ever so cross when Sophie brought her English book home from school. Sophie had had to write a story about ‘Getting ready in the morning’. She had written that she had to crawl under Mum’s bed so that she could find the soap and flannel to wash and that while she was under there she had found the dog’s saucepan, Grandad’s braces and Mum’s new hat that she had bought for a wedding. Sophie continued that she had found the toothpaste behind the cushion on the easychair in the sitting room, but the tube was a bit chewed up so she did not bother to clean her teeth. She said that she had hidden her shoes under the pillow but when she got them out the shoelaces had gone, so she had to go and get another pair out of the refrigerator.

Mum said that Sophie made ours sound a terrible house and that people would think we were most peculiar, but the fact is we did often have to go round the house on this sort of recovery course before we could get ready for anything. And it was quite true about Mum hiding the shoelaces in the fridge. She had been so cross when Nikki had managed to open the broom-cupboard and found her secret supply that she had hidden the rest of them, herself, in the fridge, remarking that the badger would never think of looking there.

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Juliet Edwards
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