Anna's Reviews > Bats at the Library

Bats at the Library by Brian Lies
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Jul 12, 08

bookshelves: reviewed-for-watermark, picture-books
Read in July, 2008

A few summers ago, I was up at my grandparents’ cabin near Shawano, Wisconsin, sitting on the dock at dusk and dipping my toes in the warm water. All across the channel, hovering just a few inches above the surface, were thousands upon thousands of tiny winged insects—a shimmering, golden cloud of hazy flight. While I watched, transfixed, I suddenly felt something strike the back of my head, and as I turned to look I saw a bat—also drawn by the bugs—flutter away.
That was my most magical bat experience until I read “Bats at the Library.”
This is the kind of picture book that makes me want to have children for the sole purpose of reading it to them again and again . . . but in the meantime, I’ll read to anyone who’ll listen. It’s the story of a colony of bats whose regular routine gets a much-needed shot in the wing when they find a library window ajar and lose themselves in a world of books.
Lies’ paintings are full of rich detail: a wee baby bat with “water wings”; little bats frolicking in the library’s water fountain, while one shivers on the side; lovingly rendered wooden bookshelves, comfy furniture, glowing lamps like the one in Watermark’s own fiction section. And the bats themselves have expressive, adorable faces, like the fliedermaus they are. The centerpiece of the book is a gorgeous spread where Lies has re-imagined classic children’s illustrations with bats as main characters: “Make Way for Batlings,” “Goodnight Sun,” “Pippi Batstocking,” “Winnie-the Bat,” “Little Red Riding Bat.” It’s a beautiful, sweet, whimsical book, suitable for bookish children, soon-to-be-bookish babies, and sentimental adults. A portion of the proceeds are donated to Bat Conservation International: as an old bumper sticker of mine proclaimed, bats need friends too!
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