A Rabid Book for the Kids

Rabies cover


Submitter: The late, great Elaine Landau has a number of up-to-date quality titles out there. Perhaps this was one of them in 1993. I was in middle school then, and I wonder what my reaction to the severed skunk head would have been. I wasn’t prepared for it when I was flipping through it a few months ago.

[This was found in a] public library children’s collection.

Holly: I’m going to warn you all right now. DO NOT CLICK THROUGH IF YOU ARE SENSITIVE TO ANIMAL ISSUES! Just click over to Emergency Kitten blog instead and let today’s post go. I don’t need anyone swooning or getting mad at me for what you are going to see below. I don’t like it any more than you do, and while it’s not a bad book, I think this was a better choice for an adult collection than children’s. Severed heads indeed! Nice cozy bedtime story! Gross.

rabies shots

skunk head

rabid dog

viewing unborn calf

tracking a moose

cat and dog bites


  1. How is this awful? This is *exactly* the sort of thing that will both interest and excite kids. This isn’t an awful library book; this is an *awesome* library book.

    1. I agree–this is exactly the kind of book I read avidly as a kid. (I did check out a book about rabies at some point. Probably after reading Cujo or Old Yeller!)

      While some readers would not go near a book with a photo of a severed skunk head, others will be fascinated, in a veterinary-CSI sort of way.

      The only reasons to get rid of this book would be if the medical or scientific information is outdated, or if it doesn’t see any use (either circulating or in-library).

      1. The medical information is out-of-date, as I believe there is now a treatment (involves induced coma, not infallible, but it saves some people) for full-blown rabies in humans.

    2. I think you are exactly right, Walker. I would have found this book very interesting when I was a kid. Let me add that stuff like the skunk head is more likely to fascinate kids than scare or upset them.

  2. I’m sorry to say I practically run on paranoia fuel the way cars run on real fuel, and if I read this entire book I’d probably be afraid to even go near my two cats. Of course I had them both vaccinated. But there are a lot of pet owners where I live who probably never even took their animals to the vet for a check-up because they simply can’t afford it. Of course they shouldn’t have pets at all, but…

  3. My dad has worked in animal health for as long as I can remember. My fiance was an intern at my dad’s work back before we started dating. Dad showed him a severed golden retriever head once and that didn’t scare him away from my family haha! Bat/rat/cat heads in the freezer at home were a normal occurence!

    Anyway, I do think that kids should know the dangers of rabies. I used to be a substitute teacher and would warn kids about seeing wild animals out in the daytime…that they should tell a teacher or a grown up ASAP if they see an animal acting strangely.

  4. Yeah, I’m with Lora on this. Rabies in particular has always freaked me out, and even though I live in an urban area, I’m going to be extra wary now. Also the severed head really is a bit much. Even if they wanted to demonstrate that the evidence of going after a porcupine points to rabies, I don’t know if the severed head was really the best way to go. Ick.

  5. A researcher dissects the brain of a rabid cat using a big old saw. Why? Just why?

  6. When I saw the title at first I thought it said Babies…but then I looked again.


  7. I think the fact that it was published over 20 years ago would be a bigger issue than the content. Rabies is not uncommon, so I’m sure there’s a more recent, updated book on this topic.

  8. Reminds me of an old episode of The Office when one of the workers contracts rabies and they host a charity fun run to raise funds for rabies research.

    One of my kids would be traumatized by this book. The other one would be fascinated.

  9. I got bit by a rabid bat in Salt Lake City. It swooped out of the sky, bit me, and then came back to bite my wife but missed. It looked like the bats in the vampire movies. We were within two miles of downtown and a few blocks from our apartment. I think that I got about ten shots the first night and then had to come back regularly for the next three months. I may have saved the life of a woman who had convinced the people in the same emergency room that it was a bird. They called her back in for rabies shots. To make matters worse, the bat was hanging out near the local Catholic High School that put out warnings to anyone attending an evening event.

    Rabid skunks are also common in Berkley, Michigan but at least they don’t fly and are easier to avoid. I had one in my back yard; the police weren’t willing to do anything. They just shrugged their shoulders and left when we called them.

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