Monday, April 2, 2018

Bats: Learning to fly by Falynn Koch

This entry in the Science Comics series introduces readers to the mysterious and fascinating world of bats.

Little Brown Bat is lost in the desert. He comes upon a group on a nighttime hike, viewing nectar bats. But when Little Brown tries to grab a few insects, the group flail and grab at him, damaging his wing. The ranger takes him to a wild animal hospital where he's cared for and transferred to a cage with lots of other bats who are being rehabilitated or cannot be released. As Little Brown slowly makes friends with the other bats, he learns all about different kinds of bats, what they eat and where they live, and the challenges that face them in the wild. As each bat tells their story, Little Brown (and the reader) learn about the many dangers that face bats and how we can help them survive - and thrive - in the wild.

An added dimension to the story is the dialogue between the vet, Rebecca, and Sarah, the teen from the hiking group. At first she seems indifferent, playing on her phone while her parents ooh and aah over the night-time creatures, but it's Sarah who tries to calm her parents down and gets involved after they inadvertently injure the bat. Sarah has several conversations with Rebecca about how she got involved in caring for bats and works with Rebecca and the wildlife group from taking Little Brown in to finally releasing him back to the wild.

This is Koch's first book (she also has a second Science Comic - Plagues - out from First Second at this point) but I'm sure I've seen her work elsewhere. Her faces are very distinctive, with slightly bent and discolored noses, which, it turns out, make great bat faces! She draws vibrantly and lovingly the weird, wonderful world of bats with all their unique attributes and habitats. I did find some confusion in all the pictures being flipped, showing the bats upright (instead of upside-down) but I can understand why it was done that way.

Verdict: There's enough of a story to attract readers who like narratives but this is primarily expository prose about bats. Readers who enjoy learning about animals and their rehabilitation will grab this one. Even kids who are nervous around bats may be talked around to enjoying this one - and maybe learning a little about these strange but wonderful creatures.

ISBN: 9781626724099; Published 2017 by First Second; Purchased from the library

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