Whitey and Whiskers

Whitey and Whiskers - cover
Whitey and Whiskers and Food

Here is another oldie but goody STILL sitting in a youth nonfiction collection. This is so old, it would have been old when I was in elementary school.  Basic premise: Mr. Kane, the teacher, wants to teach the kids about nutrition. He brings in two white mice and names them Whitey and Whiskers. They feed the mice two different diets: one with junk food and one with “good” food.  Conclusion: Junk food will make you weak and pathetic and the four basic food groups will make you strong.  Time to weed this one! Think of this as junk food in your collection, making it weak and pathetic.



Whitey and Whiskers


  1. I actually remember reading this as a kid! The memory was buried deep in my subconscious until I read this post, so, thanks, I think.

    On a serious note, any book that condones animal cruelty, even if it’s in the name of science is a definite weeder. Poor Whiskers!

  2. Sad to say, when I first read the title of the book, I read “Whitey, Whiskey and Food.” A whole other experiment comes to mind.

  3. At least the girls are not afraid of the mice. That is the best I can say—-and Poor Whiskers indeed! I would have snuck “real food” in and compromised the entire experiment.

  4. I myself (ashamedly) have a diet like whiskers, but would never subject an animal to anything that would
    make it ill. On a lighter note, when our kids were younger they had 2 pet hooded rats that lived almost
    5 years on a diet of seeds, grains, nuts, vegetables and an occasional bacon or chocolate treat. I attribute
    the longevity to the chocolate and bacon myself.

  5. Wasn’t there a Beverly Cleary book with this experiment as a plot, but the kid doing the project (or maybe the kid’s brother?) secretly fed the junk food rats extra because he felt sorry for them?

  6. I’m all for animal testing if it can improve and prolong human life. If animal testing leads to a cure for cancer or AIDS or something, I’ll have no complaints. That said, there’s a difference between animal testing to advance science and animal testing to prove a point to grade schoolers. Poor Whiskers indeed.
    (I also read the title as “Whitey and Whiskey” the first time. That book would have taught a very different lesson.)

  7. Yes, we definitely need to remove books that tell children junk food is bad for them. After all, children have so many good role models to emulate. Why in our society if you eat a lot of junk food, you can become a TV talk show host or even the Secretary of State!

    How will we ever survive without Hostess Twinkies?

  8. We DID this in elementary school (circa early-to-mid 1980s), only with rats. One ate the school lunch (“healthy”) and the other one ate crap people brought in from home, candy and flat soda and potato chips and similar.

    I feel terrible about that now. I’ve had pet rats and they’re such intelligent and friendly little creatures.

    Yes, please weed. We don’t need anyone else doing this!

  9. They did this experiment in the Beverly Cleary book “Otis Spofford”. It involved two young rats, named Pinky and Mutt. Otis decided to feed Mutt, the soda pop rat (vitamin pills and cheese), because he thought that it would mean soda being served in the cafeteria.

    In the story, Mutt does indeed gain more weight than his brother, and the teacher wonders why. A girl in the class confesses that she had been feeding Mutt too, and is allowed to keep him for a pet. Her mom objects, so she gives the rat to Otis (and presumably has visitation rights).

    Wow, I haven’t thought of that book for at least 30 years! What a nice memory : )

Comments are closed.