"Again with the bats, evoking another call of "encore!"
"This latest adventure will enchant children, who will want to hear it, read it, and relive it over and over again."
—School Library Journal
Given how important echolocation is to bats, it should come as no surprise that they’re secret music-lovers. That’s the case with Lies’s colony, anyway, back in a fourth book. When night falls, the bats head to a summer theater where act after act takes the stage—there’s a string section that hangs upside down while playing, as well as singers in a variety of genres (“Next up, there’s a country song—/ some lonesome bat done someone wrong”). Humorous touches abound in Lies’s characteristically polished acrylic paintings, and the bats’ infectiously joyful music-making will have readers reaching for the nearest noisemaker or instrument. Ages 4–8. (Aug.)
PreS-Gr 3—Bats wake up in the spring, hungry for food and even hungrier for sound. Their quest for a little night music leads them to a deserted summertime theater where a single light beckons them inside, past huckster bats selling T-shirts and posters, to the stage where other bats gather with improvised instruments. "We sing together as one voice./It seems the very walls rejoice!" A classical quartet, suspended upside down on matchstick perches, play violins, viola, and cello. A one-bat band is followed by a country bat sitting on a bottle cork and singing lonesome songs. A jazz bat's melancholy voice turns the room blue, while in a far corner little bats listen to children's songs. As the evening progresses, the main stage fills with bats. "Hearts are pumping, drums are thumping,/everything that's loose is jumping." Too soon, daylight signals the concert's end. Bats fly home to their rafters and dream of performing with the band. Luminous acrylic illustrations and rhyming text bring this nighttime concert joyfully to life. Like Bats at the Beach (2006), Bats at the Library (2008), and Bats at the Ballgame (2010, all Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), this latest adventure will enchant children, who will want to hear it, read it, and relive it over and over again.—Mary Jean Smith, formerly at Southside Elementary School, Lebanon, TN
Yet more bats tumble from Lies' belfry, this time to ignite a darkened summer theater with the gift of music.Lies, who has ushered bats through a night at the library, the beach and the ballpark, invites a colony into a playhouse after lights out. There, he carves out a piece of the small hours for his readers, that strange time of collywobbles and spooky quiet. The playhouse is anything but, as the bats have decided to light up the dark with "a little night music." In tuneful couplets laced with fluid if demanding words like "sitar" and "improvise," the bats get busy with jazz—is that Dizzy, with those cheeks?—and rock—is that Leon Russell, in Uncle Sam's hat?—and a camellia-adorned bat woman with a broken heart: "Her feelings fill the room with blue," a room that Lies has draped with indigo. The paintings are full of mood and spot-lit color, the bats upside down and right-side up, the rhyme both casual and emotive. There is no doubt that Lies has made an effort to please adult readers with plenty of allusions: In what passes as their dusk, a bat takes his fiddle to the roof. But the bats never fly over young readers' heads. They are there to entertain, and that they do.Again with the bats, evoking another call of "encore!" (Picture book. 4-8)