Along with an injured little brown bat, readers meet over a dozen other bat species and learn all about bat behavior.
The plotline and the pedagogy are largely unintegrated, and they often battle on the page for attention. Signaled by a change of background color, rows and boxes of information about bat anatomy, flight, diet, echolocation, research, and other topics shoehorn themselves arbitrarily into the bat protagonist’s disastrous encounter with a group of desert tourists and subsequent stay at a veterinary hospital. As his broken wing heals, he meets other bats from around the world (“Namaste” says an Indian flying fox. “And ’ello lil mate! Whaddya they call ya?” greets a fruit bat from Australia) who are likewise injured or disabled. By the time his wing is healed, he’s learned to accept differences in others, and readers have learned not only how bats live, but how to coexist with them. Koch piles on a reading list along with information about bat careers and shelters at the end. In her neatly drawn illustrations, the bats are diverse in appearance, but aside from some children in classroom settings, the vet and most other human figures are light-skinned.
Lots of science and a little story—but it’s an uneasy mix. (Graphic informational fiction. 8-10)