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There was once a little brown bat who couldn't sleep days-he kept waking up and looking at the world. Before long he began to see things differently from the other bats, who from dawn to sunset never opened their eyes. The Bat-Poet is the story of how he tried to make the other bats see the world his way. Here in The Bat-Poet are the bat's own poems and the bat's own world: the owl who almost eats him; the mockingbird whose irritable genius almost overpowers him; the chipmunk who loves his poems, and the bats who...
There was once a little brown bat who couldn't sleep days-he kept waking up and looking at the world. Before long he began to see things differently from the other bats, who from dawn to sunset never opened their eyes. The Bat-Poet is the story of how he tried to make the other bats see the world his way. Here in The Bat-Poet are the bat's own poems and the bat's own world: the owl who almost eats him; the mockingbird whose irritable genius almost overpowers him; the chipmunk who loves his poems, and the bats who can't make beads or tails of them; the cardinals, blue jays, chickadees, and sparrows who fly in and out of Randall Jarrell's funny, lovable, truthful fable. Best Illustrated Children's Books 1964 (NYT) Year's Best Juveniles 1964 (NYT)
A bat who can't sleep days makes up poems about the woodland creatures he now perceives for the first time.
Once upon a time there was a bat — a little light brown bat, the color of coffeewith cream in it. He looked like a furry mouse with wings. When I'd go in and out my front door, in the daytime, I'd look up over my head and see him hanging upside down from the roof of the porch. He and the others hung there in a bunch, all snuggled together with their wings folded, fast asleep. Sometimes one of them would wake up for a minute and get in a more comfortable position, and then the others would wriggle around in their sleep till they'd got more comfortable too; when they all moved it looked as if a fur wave went over them. At night they'd fly up and down, around and around, and catch insects and eat them; on a rainy night, though, they'd stay snuggled together just as though it were still day. If you pointed a flashlight at them you'd see them screw up their faces to keep the light out of their eyes.
Toward the end of summer all the bats except the little brown one began sleeping in the barn. He missed them, and tried to get them to come back and sleep on the porch with him. "What do you want to sleep in the barn for?" he asked them.
"We don't know, the others said. "What do you want to sleep on the porch for?"
"It's where we always sleep," he said. "If I slept in the barn I'd be homesick. Do come back and sleep with me!" But they wouldn't.
So he had to sleep all alone. He missed the others. They had always felt so warm and furry against him; whenever he'd waked, he'd pushed himself up into the middle of them and gone right back to sleep. Now he'd wake up and, instead of snuggling against the others and going back tosleep, he would just hang there and think. Sometimes he would open his eyes a little and look out into the sunlight. It gave him a queer feeling for it to be daytime and for him to be hanging there looking; he felt the way you would feel if you woke up and went to the window and stayed there for hours, looking out into the moonlight.
It was different in the daytime. The squirrels and the chipmunk, that he had never seen before — at night they were curled up in their nests or holes, fast asleep — ate nuts and acorns and seeds, and ran after each other, playing. And all the birds hopped and sang and flew; at night they had been asleep, except for the mockingbird. The bat had always heard the mockingbird. The mockingbird would sit on the highest branch of a tree, in the moonlight, and sing half the night. The bat loved to listen to him. He could imitate all the other birds-he'd even imitate the way the squirrels chattered when they were angry, like two rocks being knocked together; and he could imitate the milk bottles being put down on the porch and the barn door closing, a long rusty squeak. And he made up songs and words all his own, that nobody else had ever said or sung.
The bat told the other bats about all the things you could see and hear in the daytime. "You'd love them, he said. "The next time you wake up in the daytime, just keep your eyes open for a while and don't go back to sleep."
The other bats were sure they wouldn't like that. "We wish we didn't wake up at all," they said. "When you wake up in the daytime the light hurts your eyes — the thing to do is to close them and go right back to sleep. Day's to sleep in; as soon as it's night we'll open our eyes."
"But won't you even try it?" the little brown bat said. "Just for once, try it."
The bats all said: "No."
"But why not?" asked the little brown bat.
The bats said: "We don't know. We just don't want to."
"At least listen to the mockingbird. When you hear him it's just like the daytime."
The other bats said: "He sounds so queer. If only he squeaked or twittered — but he keeps shouting in that bass voice of his." They said this because the mockingbird's voice sounded terribly loud and deep to them; they always made little high twittering sounds themselves.
"Once you get used to it you'll like it," the little bat said. "Once you get used to it, it sounds wonderful."
"All right," said the others, "we'll try." But they were just being polite; they didn't try.
The little brown bat kept waking up in the daytime, and kept listening to the mockingbird, until one day he thought: "I could make up a song like the mockingbird's." But when he tried, his high notes were all high and his low notes were all high and the notes in between were all high: he couldn't make a tune. So he imitated the mockingbird's words instead. At first his words didn't go together-even the bat could see that they didn't sound a bit like the mockingbird's. But after a while some of them began to sound beautiful, so that the bat said to himself: "If you get the words right you don't need a tune."
The bat went over and over his words till he could say them off by heart. That night he said them to the other bats. "I've made the words like the mockingbird's," he told them, "so you can tell what it's like in the daytime." Then he said to them in a deep voice-he couldn't help imitating the mockingbirdhis words about the daytime:
At dawn, the sun shines like a million moons
And all the shadows are as bright as moonlight.
The birds begin to sing with all their might.
The world awakens and forgets the night.
The black-and-gray turns green-and-gold-and-blue.
The squirrels begin to —
Posted January 24, 2014
An adorable little bat who makes poems, beautiful poetry and Sendak's beautiful illustrations. What could be better! I never liked bats until I read this book. Jarrell does make his readers see the world through a poet's eyes.
There is plenty of action to keep children interested.
Posted June 14, 2001
Posted September 17, 2000
This is a wonderful book that teaches children the joy poetry and learning the important lesson of self discovery. I read this book a few years ago and since I read it, I have been searching for it all over the place. I am so excited that I have actually found it again.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 21, 2013
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