Animals in Literature

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A Boy Called BAT

Bat loves animals. When his mom, a veterinarian, brings home an orphaned skunk Bat enthusiastically agrees to care for the skunk kit until the wild-animal shelter can take it in. Almost immediately, Bat forms a bond with the skunk and believes that they belong together. Bat is determined to show his mom how good of a care taker he can be, and will have students contemplating the role people play in rehabilitating wildlife.

Animal Welfare Considerations:

  • While BAT and his family had good intentions, Thor is a wild animal and should have been taken to a wildlife rehabilitation center where he could have received the care he needed. In fact, in Alberta taking a skunk, or any wildlife, in as a pet is illegal according to Section 55(1) of the Wildlife Act, unless you have a permit to do so. Skunks, along with bats and raccoons, are also a species capable of spreading rabies, which precludes them from being kept as pets in Alberta.
  • Students are able to interact with the rabbit in Mr. Grayson’s classroom whenever they want. Rabbits have fragile spines and it is important to know how to pick up and hold a rabbit safety and to ensure safety, children should be supervised while interacting with animals. It’s also important to respect that rabbits may not want to be handled frequently by different people. Teachers can establish rules and routines that guide safe and respectful interactions with classroom animals require. Visit our section on classroom animals for things to consider if you have a class pet

Why use this book?

  • Highlights the strong connection and relationships people have with their animals, known as the human-animal bond.
  • Showcases a main character who is on the autism spectrum in a realistic and positive manner.

Ask your students:

Chapters 1-5

  • Bat’s bedroom is his ‘safe space’. It always makes him feel better, and nobody is allowed to bother him when he is in there. Do you have a space like this? Why is having a ‘safe space’ important for people? Do you think animals also like having a space like this? Safe spaces for animals are very important! For dogs this might be a dog bed, and cats this might be an elevated space or bed with high sides. It’s important to leave animals alone when they are in their “safe spaces.”
  • Bat was angry when his mom did not pick up vanilla yoghurt at the grocery store. What are some ways you deal with your anger? If you are around someone who is angry, what can you do to help? What are some positive ways to deal with anger?
  • Why does Bat’s mom bring the baby skunk home?
  • Why are they not allowed to keep the kit as a pet?
  • What should you do if you find hurt or injured wildlife?
  • What do you think will happen with the skunk?

Chapters 6-10

  • Bat is eager to learn more about skunks. Why is it important to learn about animals we take care of?
  • Why do Every-Other Fridays make Bat uncomfortable?
  • Even when his mom reminded Bat that they will be giving the skunk to the wildlife rescue center, he made a silent promise that he’d figure out a way to keep the skunk. Do you think this is a good idea? Why or why not. What would the best thing be for the skunk?
  • Students in Mr. Grayson’s class can go visit Babycakes, the classroom pet rabbit, whenever they want. What do you think Babycakes thinks of this?
  • What is the unspoken rule mentioned in Chapter 9? What are some unspoken rules in your classroom? What are some unspoken rules in your home?
  • Bat does not like building the volcano as part of a group. What are some benefits of working as a group? What do you or could you do if a group member is not cooperating?

Chapters 11-15

  • The enclosure Bat’s mom made for the skunk is different from Babycakes’ enclosure in Mr. Grayson’s class. Why do you think the enclosures are different? Different species have different needs!
  • Why does Bat’s mom not think it is a good idea for Bat to name the skunk? Do you agree with her? Why or why not.
  • Why is Bat not allowed to let Thor sleep in his bed? Why is it important for Thor to not be treated like a pet?
  • According to Dr. Jerry Dragoo, while skunks in general do not make good pets, what makes a good pet is a good pet caretaker. Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not.
  • What types of animals do not make good pets? Wild animals do not make good pets! They have complex needs that are difficult to meet, and they are best living in their natural environments. Additionally, pets that aren’t suitable for individuals or families are ones in which their physical and emotional needs cannot be met.

Chapters 16-20

  • Bat writes an e-mail to Dr. Dragoo asking him to tell Bat it is ok to keep Thor as a pet. If you were Dragoo, what would you tell Bat?
  • Bat enjoyed keeping Thor in the sling. Do you think Bat enjoys it because he likes it, or because it is what is best for Thor?
  • Bat and Janie get upset with each other while eating spaghetti. How would you have handled the situation if you were Bat? How would you have handled the situation if you were Janie?
  • What was Janie’s reaction to the thank-you ‘gift’ Bat gave her for coming up with Thor’s name? How would you have reacted in her situation?
  • Lucca does not like skunks because one sprayed her dog when she was camping. Why do you think the dog might have been sprayed by the skunk? Do you think it is fair that Lucca doesn’t like skunks because of this?
  • The longer Bat cares for Thor, the more Bat is becoming attached. What are the problems that could arise from Bat being too attached to Thor?

Chapters 21-26

  • Grayson asks Bat to give Israel the benefit of the doubt when Bat thought he was making fun of him. What does giving someone the benefit of the doubt mean? Do you think it is a good thing? Explain.
  • What do you think of Dr. Dragoo’s response to Bat’s e-mail? Do you think Dr. Dragoo thinks Bat should keep Thor? Why or why not.
  • Why was Bat nervous for his new friend, Israel, to come over? Think of a time you were nervous, what did you do to calm your nerves?
  • Bat felt happy – really, really happy at the end of the book. What made Bat feel this way? What makes you feel happy?
  • Do you agree with Bat being allowed to care for Thor (instead of a wild life center) until Thor is old enough to be released into the wild? Do you think Thor’s best interests are being taken into consideration?


  • Animal Research – Wanting to provide the best possible care for Thor, BAT decides to learn more about skunks and how to care for them. The more we know about animals the more willing and able we are to provide appropriate care. Have students learn more about their favourite domestic animal. Students could create a collage, design a poster, or put together a short power point on how to provide care for that animal.
  • Skunks 101 – Skunks are native to Alberta and can be found in a variety of habitats; they also have a negative reputation because of their ability to spray a very unpleasant scent. Skunks are interesting animals and play an important role in their ecosystems. Have students learn more about skunks by completing a KWL chart. Divide students into small groups and have them work together to write down what they Know about skunks, and what they Want to learn about skunks. Next, have students watch the Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation’s short video Skunks 101 (14:52). Finally, have students complete what they Learned about skunks. Were any of their questions unanswered by the video, do they have new questions after watching the video? Have students research any new or unanswered questions.
  • Injured and/or Orphaned Wildlife – Go over this Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation poster about orphaned skunks, with your class. Ask students if they think the information can be applied to all wildlife? Individually or in pairs have students pick a wild animal that can be found in Alberta to research what to do if you found the animal injured or orphaned in the wild. Students then could create their own posters to hang in the classroom using information from Wild North and Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation.
  • Extension: Animal Adviser –A classroom animal is a big commitment for a teacher! In this activity students will learn about appropriate care of a rabbit and meeting both the physical and emotional needs. Activity for students: Grayson has asked you to give advice on how to care for the classroom rabbit. You will need to research what needs rabbits have and think about how these needs can be met in a classroom setting. Consider food, water, rabbit enclosure (type and size), veterinarian needs, care plan (weekends, holidays), and enrichment. See additional resources for some articles on rabbit care to get you started. Have students write a letter or create a presentation for Mr. Grayson on how to appropriately care for a classroom rabbit.

Additional Resources Related to Book:


Elana K. Arnold, 2017


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