Friday, April 27, 2012

Home in the cave by Janet Halfmann, illustrated by Shennen Bersani

Baby Bat doesn't want to leave his cave - ever. When his mother flies out to catch insects, he reluctantly tries a few wing flaps, only to fall - and meet another inhabitant of the cave, Pluribus Packrat, who shows him all the creatures that depend on the bats.

Their guano and the fungus that grows in it feeds cave-dwelling insects that feed other insects - even in the water! Pack rats like Pluribus have to travel outside the cave to find seeds and berries, adding to the cycle. Baby Bat, realizing how important bats are and how the milk he drinks from his mother comes from the insects she eats, decides he's ready to be independent - right after a nap.

Anthropomorphized nonfiction isn't really my cup of tea - I prefer either straight facts or a completely fictional story. The text shies away from some of the realities of the food cycle; although the other baby bats talk about their mothers' narrow escapes, the text never specifically points out that one of the ways bats contribute to the cycle is by being eaten.

I wasn't able to judge the art as well as I'd like; I reviewed this in ebook format and it wasn't very clear (plus, and I freely admit it, I am overdue for new glasses). The pictures are soft and fuzzy and the mammals faces' expressive. I would have liked more detail in the depictions of the cave insects (in an objective sense - personally, I could see them as well as I wanted to, which was not very well!).

Like all of Sylvan Dell's nonfiction/fiction blend titles, there are extensive educational activities and resources included in the book.

Verdict: This title will work best for kids who like stories with nonfiction components mixed in and in schools. It's too long for storytime but the fictional components are probably going to put it in a picture book section, where most parents are looking for shorter titles. An additional purchase, primarily for schools.

ISBN: 1607185229; Published February 2012 by Sylvan Dell; Ebook provided for review by author

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