The activities of a young brown bat over his first summer on his own serve as introduction to the most widespread bat species in the U.S.
Pringle weaves information about the lives of these misunderstood mammals into his imagined-from-facts tale of “Otis,” named for his species, Myotis lucifugus. As always, this veteran science writer mostly avoids anthropomorphization, describing actions with lively language that’s fun to read aloud: “Otis zigs and zags, flutters and dives, hovers and swoops, dips and swerves….He is finding, chasing, catching, and eating insects.” To begin, there’s a flashback to the bat’s puphood, nursing from his mother. The story proceeds with a night of hunting and a detailed explanation of how Otis catches insects in flight. He meets prey whose ability to hear ultrasound clicks helps them escape and a predator, an owl, that he avoids. After the summer feeding, Otis flies far to join others in a cave, mate (mentioned, not described), and hibernate until spring. The conclusion of this simple story demonstrates the importance of these bats to our lives: When they return in the spring, “Lots of mosquitoes and other insects will be in big trouble!” Appropriate vocabulary introduces relevant concepts. The species-threatening white-nose syndrome is described in an afterword for adult readers. Garchinsky’s darkly atmospheric illustrations, created with pastels and aqua crayons on textured paper, will show well at storytime.
A simple but effective appreciation. (author’s note, glossary) (Informational picture book. 3-7)