A Fable of Epidemic Proportions
BAT CAVE: A FABLE OF EPIDEMIC PROPORTIONS—book #2 of The Critter Chronicles series—starts where FISH TANK: A FABLE FOR OUR TIMES left off. The allegory considers threats we are all too aware of today, including epidemic disease and immigration. BAT CAVE tackles these issues and more, this time through the lens of a bald eagle, her friend a seagull, and multiple colonies of bats living in a cave, some bats local, some migrating through. BAT CAVE is a fun, science-savvy, thought-provoking story appropriate for all ages. Like all books in The Critter Chronicle series, BAT CAVE is a small book based on a large premise—that story has the power to change the world.
And one thing more!
A BAT CAVE Discussion Guide for Book Clubs and Classrooms is available. Click button below to see the downloadable pdf.
I FIND JOY in allegories. Allegories allow readers to explore familiar topics from a distinctly unfamiliar viewpoint. The challenges and foibles, the heroes and those less heroic, of a fictional world—one mostly made up of talking animals!—can be seen through a kinder, more thoughtful lens. Allegories allow ready comparison with the “real” world, but with more room to consider and ponder, and less demand for black and white interpretations.
Simply put, an allegorical world is a less daunting place than the real one.
We have much to worry about in this day and age. Climate change—the topic of FISH TANK: A FABLE FOR OUR TIMES, Book 1 in THE CRITTER CHRONICLES series—is an existential threat to humanity and the biosphere. FISH TANK depicts that threat through the struggles of a community of fish whose world is an aquarium, and who are struggling with rising temperatures in a culture of intertwining issues: politics and power, science and misinformation, and the interests of community versus self. The book, much like this one, explores the interplay of such critical societal factors, and how (and if!) society can emerge from a crisis.
BAT CAVE: A FABLE OF EPIDEMIC PROPORTIONS—Book 2 in THE CRITTER CHRONICLES series—starts where FISH TANK left off. Here we consider other issues and controversies we are all too aware of in 2023, including pandemic diseases, vaccination sentiments, and immigration policies. BAT CAVE tackles these issues and more, this time through the lens of multiple colonies of bats living in a cave, some bats local, some migrating through.
While the underlying topics of BAT CAVE, like those of FISH TANK, are difficult ones, the critters and situations that bring these stories to the reader are written to be fun yet enlightening, quirky and challenging. Of great importance is this: the best thing about an allegory is that while the author can create a fictional world, full of engaging characters and interesting plot twists, it is up to the reader to consider and interpret that fictional world in the way they themselves see it.
It’s important, I think, to let you the reader know that much science is incorporated into BAT CAVE (as it was in FISH TANK), sometimes gently, sometimes more directly. I provide a look at some of that science, albeit briefly, in the book’s Afterword.
With those items as background, it is my fervent hope that you enjoy BAT CAVE: A FABLE OF EPIDEMIC PROPORTIONS, and that the story gives you pause for thought.
As she did for FISH TANK, I am so pleased that artist Katie Lindberg again agreed to create an incredible cover painting and inside line art for BAT CAVE. Katie has the unique ability to make other’s imaginings come to life on paper, of visualizing a story and bringing it to us all in her own unique and wonderful way! I so appreciate Katie’s patience and skills in dealing with my meandering requests. I so appreciate Katie’s artistic talents.
Here's a short bio for Katie: Based in Colorado, Katie Lindberg has been honing her drawing and painting skills for a lifetime. Katie explores a variety of media, but largely focuses on painting. She works across multiple scales, with efforts ranging from greeting cards to commissioned art to murals, including a major mural for the Denver Public school system. Since graduating from the University of Colorado Boulder (Go Buffs!), Katie has worked as an environmental engineer, an education and work life that have taught her to pay attention to detail while using her creativity to find solutions and bring ideas to life. Katie is also a budding entrepreneur and sometimes model. A broad sampling of Katie's art can be found at www.KatieLindberg.com.
Scott Bischke tackles one of the most vexing problems for bat ecologists. He presents a captivating allegory on the challenges of studying wild populations through an exploration of White-nose Syndrome.
—Dr. Marty Zaluski, Montana State Veterinarian
BAT CAVE reinvigorates the time-honored tradition of teaching through parables. Beneath the light-hearted banter and storyline are lessons of the utmost importance. Highly recommended for all ages.
—Chris Beatty, Founder and Editor Emeritus, Ecopress
Scott Bischke does a fantastic job of integrating current events into his allegories, and readers of all ages will benefit from his books. In BAT CAVE, immigration is represented through the lens of local and migrating bats. The local bats declare ownership and refuse to share space and resources with those who arrive in large numbers and look different, bringing to light the injustice and cruelty of refusing those in need. Such storytelling can lead to great discussions in the classroom and beyond regarding immigration, colonization, and the judgements we make based on such minor details of humanity. THE CRITTER CHRONICLES engages readers to appreciate the intricate lives of the animals with whom we share the planet, while addressing the struggles of society and science from a perspective that is both approachable and enjoyable!
—Kelsey Green, Writing and Leadership Professor, Montana State University
BAT CAVE made me realize there was so much about bats I didn't know. I appreciated the story's strong message about working together and extending genuine friendship. Granted, such effort engages us in things that we are not comfortable with, and THAT was powerful. BAT CAVE asks us to both question science and trust science. As humans, we have that capacity, but sometimes don't use it or don't use it wisely.
—Nancy Jordheim, Assistant Superintendent (retired), Fargo ND Public Schools
BAT CAVE is an entertaining story that also educates and invites critical thinking about our responsibilities to each other and the role of science within a civil society.
—Kathy Brewer, Environmental Engineer
BAT CAVE is an enjoyable tale filled with delightful characters! Much like FISH TANK, this book would be a wonderful reading/discussion activity in the classroom. I think the book will be enjoyed by a wide range of ages.
—Jody Ouradnik, Education Curriculum Content Designer
This charming allegory combines Scott's research, writing ability, and passion for addressing environmental harms while delighting and educating both the kids and their grown-ups. The critters' persuasive personalities rival those in FISH TANK with noble (human) traits like fairness and loyalty.
—Lori Byron, MD, Pediatrician, and Chair of Montana Health Professionals for a Healthy Climate
BAT CAVE is a fabulously engaging story, written in such a way as to both capture the reader's attention and lead them through some timely pandemic issues of great concern. White-nose Syndrome in bats is an epidemic of catastrophic proportions (as the title suggests) and it is great that this issue is getting this kind of attention. This book should be widely used in schools at all levels everywhere.
—Dr. Lois Alexander, Professor of Biological Sciences, College of Southern Nevada
I had a great time reading BAT CAVE. I find the epidemic topic fascinating—I had no idea that the white-nose epidemic existed, let alone that it has killed millions of bats. …. I recommend BAT CAVE because it's adventureful, you learn a bunch of amazing facts about bats, and I like the plot of the story.
—Brent Jordheim, Lawyer, Denver Public School System .… & Reese (in her own words, after reading aloud with Dad), age 8
BAT CAVE is a fun read with a powerful and important message. A creative new way for non-scientists to interact with essential science concepts!
—Dr. Janet Lindsley, Professor of Biochemistry
I liked BAT CAVE. Bischke does an excellent job of leading the reader onwards into the story and I and suspect most readers will regard it as a bit of a page-turner. The story ties both disease and immigration/migration together. I like that those two topics are conjoined, because it's a reality of our time (or any time, for that matter), that issues can't be examined separately but have to be looked at as a whole. Multiple causation is hard for most of us to wrap our brains around, but it's also truth and reality.
—Linda Ashkenas, Ecologist
BAT CAVE is an interesting and compelling story with a certain je ne sais quoi.
—William Gibson, Professional Pilot
BAT CAVE is an intriguing journey that explores our important relationships with the natural world and our own human nature.
— Dr. Winifred Frick, Chief Scientist, Bat Conservation International
In a heartwarming tale filled with unexpected twists, Bischke takes readers on a journey to Baja with an eagle and a seagull and numerous bats! The critters in BAT CAVE are captivating and the plot keeps you turning the pages. Bischke skillfully weaves science into the narrative to detail the struggles faced by these wild creatures, explaining concepts from migration to infectious diseases. An important subplot concerns the epidemic of White-nose Syndrome—a disease that is wiping out bats across much of North America—and how humans are trying to save the bats. BAT CAVE presents science in an exciting and engaging way, making the story perfect for all ages.
— Dr. Raina Plowright, Professor of Disease Ecology, Cornell University
BAT CAVE provides a unique opportunity for folks of all ages to learn about science and human nature via the journey and experiences of the critters in this tale. Similar to FISH TANK, BAT CAVE brings important themes to life—this time, related to disease—through the book's animal protagonists. Bischke's allegorical approach allows, even forces, us human readers to think a little bit harder about critical issues, which I appreciate and think others will, too. A thoughtful and entertaining read.
— Dr. Miranda Margetts, Assistant Research Professor, Montana State University
BAT CAVE is flat out wonderful! A mind-expanding, modern-day fable for all ages that makes you think, wonder, and care.
—Tom Vandel, author of THE BROKEN WORLD, 2022 High Plains Book Awards finalist
BAT CAVE is a powerful and entertaining allegory full of opportunities for rich exploration and discussion. The book takes us on an engaging adventure filled with delightful characters: most new, others old friends from the book's predecessor in the series, FISH TANK. Bischke tells a compelling story with themes such as friendship across cultural divides, public health strategies, immigration, and polarization. Conflicts in the storyline provide many big and difficult conversations that we are called to be a part of. BAT CAVE gives us a safe and easily accessible space to start those conversations. For the classroom—indeed for us all—BAT CAVE is an excellent resource to explore challenging concepts and engage in critical thought.
— Joan Exley, Community Literacy Coordinator, Province of British Columbia
Scott Bischke’s BAT CAVE: A FABLE OF EPIDEMIC PROPORTIONS is a fast-flying read that tells the tale of two feathered friends’ journey to Mexico for the winter. Volant the eagle and Gabby the seagull end up wintering on an island that is home to two large bat colonies. As they befriend the bats and learn about their lifestyles, Volant and Gabby become embroiled in the mystery of the humans who come to the island and take away some of their bat friends. An engaging story seen from a bird’s—and bat’s—eye view, BAT CAVE also informs the reader about the devastating disease, White-nose Syndrome, which has killed millions of bats.
— Eva Silverfine, author of EPHEMERAL WINGS