Sunday, December 07, 2008
Sunday Salon - Bats at the Library
I've reviewed a few picture books during the year, but I finally found the one book I'd recommend this year. If I was buying one picture book to read to children from four to eight, Bats at the Library, written and illustrated by Brian Lies, would be it.
Lies' illustrations are dark, softly lit, and perfect. Each page is a short poem that furthers the story. Lies doesn't talk down to his readers or listeners. At one time, he says someone left a window ajar, and gives the reader the chance to explain the word. The text is a perfect length for reading to groups of children.
Bats at the Library starts on an autumn evening, when the bats have eaten, and they're bored. Then someone brings word that a window is open at the library. And, the bats fly into an old-fashioned looking library. (However, a careful examination on one page reveals a bat using a computer.)
There are so many details on each page. There are old-fashioned library lamps on tables. When the author mentions old bats, he shows them with glasses. And, the bats reading "guides to fancy foods," are reading insect books. The illustrations are also humorous at times, such as when the bats are copying themselves.
The storytime scene with all the bats is charming, and leads to the perfect ending. Book lovers, readers and librarians will all appreciate this story and illustrations. And, how can anyone resist an author whose picture is upside down on a book about bats?
Remember, I'm not a children's librarian, but Brian Lies' Bats at the Library is my favorite picture book this year.
If you'd like to see a sample of Brian Lies' illustrations for this book, check out his website, www.brianlies.com
Bats at the Library by Brian Lies. Houghton Mifflin, ©2008. ISBN 9780618999231 (hardcover), 32p.