BATTY HATTIE

Harriet is a sixth-grader who feels abandoned by her mother, a musician who has parked her with a biologist uncle so she can tour Europe. Harriet finds nothing good about her new home in rural California until she sees her uncle feeding an injured bat. Disobeying his orders, she picks up an abandoned baby bat while on a field trip. Harriet hides it for weeks, waking up every two hours to feed it at night; he thrives while sleep deprivation begins to take a toll on Harriet. The bat helps her make friends, but disaster strikes when the terrified creature flies through the classrooms and disrupts the entire school. Harriet finally must make the painful decision to return her pet to the wild, and when she sees the baby reunited with its mother, she begins to understand her own mother better. Although the characters remain superficial, the author’s treatment of Harriet’s difficulties in her new school will strike a chord with children. The wealth of information offered about bats is engagingly presented. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-7614-5047-5

Page Count: 142

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

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RED-EYED TREE FROG

Bishop’s spectacular photographs of the tiny red-eyed tree frog defeat an incidental text from Cowley (Singing Down the Rain, 1997, etc.). The frog, only two inches long, is enormous in this title; it appears along with other nocturnal residents of the rain forests of Central America, including the iguana, ant, katydid, caterpillar, and moth. In a final section, Cowley explains how small the frog is and aspects of its life cycle. The main text, however, is an afterthought to dramatic events in the photos, e.g., “But the red-eyed tree frog has been asleep all day. It wakes up hungry. What will it eat? Here is an iguana. Frogs do not eat iguanas.” Accompanying an astonishing photograph of the tree frog leaping away from a boa snake are three lines (“The snake flicks its tongue. It tastes frog in the air. Look out, frog!”) that neither advance nor complement the action. The layout employs pale and deep green pages and typeface, and large jewel-like photographs in which green and red dominate. The combination of such visually sophisticated pages and simplistic captions make this a top-heavy, unsatisfying title. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-87175-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1999

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PIGS

Gibbons’s 100th book is devoted to presenting swine in a positive light; she quickly demystifies the stereotypes that cast pigs as smelly, dirty, greedy, and dull. Descended and domesticated from the wild boar, pigs come in hundreds of varieties, colors, shapes, and sizes; in simple language, the book outlines their characteristics, breeds, intelligence, communication, habits, and uses. The author distinguishes the various terms—hog, swine, gilt, sow, boar—while also explaining the act of wallowing in mud. The bulk of the text is characteristically factual, but Gibbons allows herself an opinion or two: “They are cute and lovable with their curly tails, their flat pink snouts and their noisy squeals and grunts.” Pen-and-watercolor drawings show sprightly pigs and a plethora of pink-cheeked children in tranquil farm scenes. (Picture book/nonfiction. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 1999

ISBN: 0-8234-1441-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1999

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