Bat has to prepare for a lot of change in the third and final book of this series, with summer vacation fast approaching. Summer vacation means Bat having to say goodbye Mr. Grayson, his friend Israel, and Babycakes, the class pet. Thor is almost ready to be released into the wild, unless Bat can convince his family otherwise. How will all these changes affect Bat? Will Thor be able to be released into the wild? These questionsand more will be answered in this book.
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.
- Mr. Grayson lets a student (Jenny) take the classroom pet home for the summer. However, we recommend never sending animals home with students. The welfare of the animal is the teacher’s responsibility, and having animals stay with the teachers sends a message that pets are important responsibilities.
- The story concludes by Thor not being returned to the wild because the animal is now used to human interaction; the skunk would not survive. Have a discussion with your students around if keeping Thor as a pet is the best thing to do. What could have been done to ensure Thor was raised in a way he was able to be released? Thor should have been taken to a wildlife rehabilitation agency. The more Thor was handled by people, the more Thor became comfortable with and relied on people which contributed to him not being able to be released. Were the actions of the characters in best interest of Thor? (i.e.: clicker training Thor, handling Thor often)? Ultimately the actions were not beneficial to Thor as he was unable to be released.
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.
- Showcased the importance of empathy and the understanding of difference in both animals and people.
Ask your Students:
- Bat is having a hard time saying goodbye to Babycakes. Why doesn’t Bat want to take Babycakes home with him for the summer? Do you think this is a good decision? Explain. Remind students that really it is Mr. Grayson who should be taking his rabbit home – after all it is his pet!
- Why isn’t Bat excited for summer like the other kids?
- What do you think should be done with Babycakes over summer break?
- What are some ways to keep in contact with people you can’t physically be with for extended periods of time, like over summer vacation (or during a pandemic)?
- What did Janie give Bat to use with Thor? Were you surprised? Why do you think she gave him this gift?
- Why did Bat ask Jenny how many pets she had? Do the more pets you have mean more responsibility? Explain.
- Why is Bat hesitant for Jenny to take Babycakes home for summer break? Do you agree with Bat?
- If you were Mr. Grayson what would you do with Babycakes over the summer? Why might letting a student look after Babycakes not be the best idea?
- Why did Janie not want to go to the restaurant? Do you think she was actually sick? Explain.
- How do you think Bat, Janie, Bat’s dad, and Suzette felt at the doughnut shop? If you were in each of their shoes, how would you of reacted?
- Bat is clicker training Thor, like people do dogs. Do you think this is a good idea? Why or why not?
- Bat tells Jenny that she is a good caretaker because Babycakes’s coat is brushed, her feet are clean, and she’s been well fed. Do you agree with Bat? What are other ways to tell if an animal is being well taken care of?
- Do you think a bathtub is a good place to keep Babycakes? What might be a more appropriate enclosure?
- Why does Bat never want to answer the question ‘when do you have to give Thor up?’?
- Why did Bat’s dad apologize at the pool for? How do you think Bat, Janie, and Bat’s dad felt after the apology?
- Janie notices that Thor has become awfully tame. Is this a good thing? Why or why not?
- What made Bat and Janie both have a ‘hard day’. What do you do when you have a ‘hard day’?
- If you were Bat, would you let Thor sleep in your bed with you? Why or why not?
- Bat and Israel are worried about Thor surviving on his own. Why would Thor have trouble surviving on his own? Could it have been prevented?
- Why is Israel worried about Bat?
- Do you agree with Dr. Dragoo recommending that Bat keep Thor because of the bond that was developed?
- Why does Bat get Thor for the family meeting?
- Are you satisfied with the ending of the book? Explain
- Family Matters – All families are unique, and Bat’s is no exception. Ask students, what makes your family unique? Using photos and/or drawings have students create a collage of their family including things that make it unique! This can be a physical collage or a digital collage. Remind students to include their pets!
- Caring for Rabbits – Rabbits are a popular pet, however their unique care needs and behaviours make owning a pet rabbit much different than a dog or a cat. As a class, discuss this BC SPCA Rabbit Care Guide After going over the poster, ask students if they would do anything differently if they were taking care of Babycakes (i.e., rules for students interacting with her, not letting students bring her home over summer break, not bringing her to school at all, etc.). Have students write a letter to Mr. Grayson that includes information on rabbits and rabbit care that he could use to improve Babycake’s time in the classroom.
- Happy Ending? – In the end, Thor was not returned to the wild because he became too dependent on Bat that he might now survive in the wild. Ask you students if they agree with this decision, and if they think this is a good thing for Thor. As a class, or in small groups have students debate if the ending of the story was happy or not. Encourage students to think of examples from all three books that would help their argument.
- Prediction (part 2) – As a class, revisit the predictions students made after reading BAT and the Waiting Game. Have students record the answers and turn the data into a bar graph to compare how many students thought Thor would be released to how many students thought Thor would not be released.