"Why There are Bats" in The UNICEF Book of Fairy Tales: Pictures and Tales from Thirteen Countries. [Germany?]: Ravensburger Buchverlag, c. 1997.


Ethnic Origin
Canadian Indian (The text does not specify from which tribe(s) or what region this tale originates).

Running Time
6 minutes

Power Center(s)
Squirrel left alone on branch, burned and blind, thinking he will die soon.

Father Sun
Little Squirrel

A tall tree in the early morning in which Father Sun becomes entangled
Little Squirrel runs up the tree to help Father Sun
Father Sun talking to Little Squirrel from the sky after he is freed
Little Squirrel (now bat) flying away

Father Sun caught in tree, so morning does not come and nobody sees him stuck. Little Squirrel looks up and agrees to help. Little Squirrel runs close and is burned-his beautiful bushy tail-does not free Father Sun. Little Squirrel runs close again and his skin is burnt black and he is blinded-does not free Father             Sun. Little Squirrel runs close once more and frees Father Sun but heat stretches his skin taunt and     elongates his claws. Father Sun looks back at Little Squirrel, sees what has happened and grants him a wish. Little Squirrel has always wanted to fly-but thinks he can not now because he is blind. Father Sun allows him to fly at night (because sun light took away Little Squirrel’s eye light); his eyesight will be replaced by better hearing. And that is why there are bats.

Rhymes/Special Phrases/"Flavor"
This all happened long ago, when all of the animals talked like people
And so everything was as it should be
"Because my light took the light of your eyes you will fly at night"
"Every morning and every evening I will greet you on my way"
"And that is how the Little Squirrel turned into the bat"

4-5 year olds
Using Erickson’s theories of child development I found this story to work well with the stage of "imaginative play helps children gain a sense of the roles and institutions of society." The Little Squirrel was rewarded for his compassion and this is an important lesson for children to learn. At this age children are beginning to move out of the totally self-absorbed stage of 2-3 (I am taking this from personal experience with my nephews). I also found the ideas of Charlotte Huck to be informative. In her structure, the ages of 3-5 include growth in such areas as learning how things work (this story is about the bat came to be), rudimentary sense of time (this all happened long ago…) and fantasy worlds being very real. Along with these theorists, the story just seemed appropriate to me.

"Little Brother Snares the Sun" in American Indian Myths and Legends. Richard Erdoes, ed. New York: Pantheon, 1984.

            This Winnebago tail has one similar element to the tale under consideration. A boy traps the sun in a special snare. The sun can not rise and the animals hold council to decide what to do. They elect Dormouse to chew through the cord that binds the sun, Dormouse was a huge animal at this point. The heat of the sun shrunk Dormouse to her present size and the sun's rays half blinded her so she is called Kug-e-been-gwa-kwa, the Blind Woman.

Because I could not find any variants of this tale I looked for other elements that were of interest/appeal from stories of the same culture. It should be noted that all I had to go on from the text was ‘native Canadian tribe,’ therefore, I kept my research to general collections of Native Americans/Canadians. The texts that I found most helpful were the following:

  1. American Indian Fairy Tales New York: Derrydale Books, 1994..
  2. American Indian Myths and Legends. Richard Erdoes, ed. New York: Pantheon, 1984.
  3. Tepee Tales of the American Indian. Retold by Dee Brown. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1979.
  4. Native American Animal Stories. Joseph Bruchac. Golden, CO: Fulcrum, 1992.

The book edited by Erdoes was the most satisfying. The turns of language seemed poetic and interesting. When reading through the tales in this collection I found some reoccurring themes/flavors that made me comfortable using this book as a ‘flavor-source.’ For instance the beginning and ending that I used (see above) were found in this collection. Some of the other collections had the stories begin without much of an introduction, and this did not sit well with me. The text by Dee Brown was very personal-narrative in style; an interesting work but not too helpful for specific examples of language crafting.

by Rebecca Moore