Children's Literature - Beverly Kobrin
With lucid narrative and deep, dark-of-night watercolors, Barbara Bash portrays North America's most common chiropteran, the mouse-eared (Myotis), light-fleeing (lucifugus), Little Brown Bat. Her Shadows of Night opens as a pregnant female joins a maternity colony after a two-night, hundred-mile flight from her winter hibernation cave. The author/artist depicts mother, baby (born two months later), and their barn-mates during a typical spring-to-spring cycle. A few words about other bat species concludes the work, along with a warning to avoid hibernating bats, for the energy they'd use to awaken and flee could cause them to starve to death before spring.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-3-- Positive attributes of the little brown bat are emphasized as Bash states on the dedication page that the animal is considered a symbol of good fortune and wisdom in China. She remains true to this positive theme by beginning the book in a maternity colony as female bats give birth and demonstrate the same tenderness and care for their pups that the more ``cuddly'' mammals show toward their young. Activities throughout the seasons are followed as the young mature, hunt for insects, hibernate in caves, and emerge to begin another yearly cycle. Bash's illustrative talents shine as she provides visual variety in depicting her subjects, which to many may appear rather drab. Alternating barn settings with the deep tones of moonlit nights and sunset scenes provide light and dark backgrounds for closeups or for hundreds of bats dramatically flying through the air. Of special appeal are sequential pictures of a bat catching insects by flying in various positions as it uses its wings and membranes to capture prey. Lively and descriptive language accompanies the illustrations. Appended pages include facts about other species, show a man-made bat house, and caution against touching the animals because of possible rabies. An excellent choice to dispel myths and for the study of this nocturnal and hibernating species. --Diane Nunn, Richard E. Byrd Elementary School, Glen Rock, NJ
Janice Del Negro
A year in the life of the little brown bat is beautifully depicted in both the text and the illustrations of this natural science picture book. Bash opens a world of shadows and night sounds to young readers, communicating in an unsensational way the creature's complexity and grace. Her watercolor illustrations are evocative and realistic, conveying mood as well as the motion of the small, swooping creature she describes. Her double-page sequence of a bat capturing insect prey is eerily precise and reflects the care Bash has taken in selecting moments to be illustrated. An excellent addition to any natural science collection, this concludes with a brief roundup of bat trivia and an example of what a bat box should look like.
Read an Excerpt
The evening sky deepens into night. Birds return to their roosts, and many other animals quietly nestle into their burrows. But some creatures are just waking up. Dark shapes flutter across the sky, suddenly turning, diving, swooping. Bats are beginning to hunt.
This is the story of the Little Brown Bat, one of the most common bats in North America. For its small size, this species has a very long life span--sometimes more than thirty years. Its scientific name is Myotis lucifugus. These Latin words mean "mouse-eared" and "light-fleeing."