The True Story of Spit MacPhee
By   James Aldridge
1986, Viking; 1987, Puffin

From the cover:

"When young Spit McPhee came to live with his grandfather, the people of the Australian country town of St. Helen feared for his future. For Fyfe McPhee was a crazy old man, barefoot Spit had to fend for himself along the riverbank where they lived.
While some people thought that Spit could look after himself, there were those who believed he would be better cared for in a boys home -- and when old Fyfe died after one of his 'turns', a fierce battle to decide Spit's destiny began. But tough-minded Spit wasn't going to any orphanage. He had plans of his own ... though who could say what would become of one small wilful boy who set himself against the well-meaning townfolk and the law ?

Pg. 1 "... this wild, barefoot and growing boy (he was almost eleven) ..."
Pg. 7 ".... by the end of the summer he was a brown, bare-legged, barefoot copy of the old man who never seemed to restrain him, even though he shouted at the boy the way he shouted at everyone else."
Pg. 9 "when it was time to start school, it was Fyfe himself who took Spit to be registered, and though Spit wore a clean, un-ironed smock, and clean pants, he still had no shoes."
Pg. 12 "Girls were inclined to keep well clear of Spit, avoiding him as a barefoot ruffian .."
Pg. 13 "Then Spit would shout. 'Look out Ben, I'm after you'. And setting out on his fat bare feet after the fleeing Ben he would roar his threats ...."
Pg. 15 "... as most of the townspeople did whenever they gave a passing thought to the old man and the barefoot boy living in their red and green house on the river-bank".
Pg. 20 "But though he kept his stocky, barefoot distance with most people, he had no real enemies".

and more , and more ....

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