Review by Jocelyne Gregory
Tundra Books, Penguin Random House Canada, February 2020
32 pages, Hardcover, $12.99 CDN, $10.99 USD
ISBN: 9780735266483, ebook: 9780735266490
Ages 6-9, Grades 1-4
Picture Book, Graphic Novel, Non-Fiction, Science/Nature
Chiroptera. What does the word mean? Where does it come from? Should we be worried? It’s the scientific name for a bat, and that information sets off The Bat by Elise Gravel. Apparently bats aren’t as creepy or scary as people thought.
Elise Gravel’s The Bat is a nonfiction graphic novel aimed at educating young readers about all things chiroptera. It covers their diets, physical biology, the roles they play in their environments as pollinators and bug eaters, and how people can help keep them safe. The graphic illustrations provide a visual understanding of bat bodies and “batty” personalities while complimenting the text with a more personable approach.
The friendly fanged bat is themselves a cheerful guide to all things batty (yes, there’s even a guest appearance of Bat Man). Each of the bats have personality and character that come through in often-comical facial expressions. Their situations range from skiing, to accidently awakening hibernating bears, to hanging around upside down.
This book is part of the Disgusting Critters series, which also includes worms, slugs, head lice, flies, toads, rats, spiders, cockroaches and mosquitos. While younger readers may struggle with pronouncing some of the bigger words (such aschiroptera), there are many learning opportunities, and it’s an enjoyable read-aloud book for a home, school, or public library collection.
Jocelyne Gregory is a UBC MFA creative writing candidate and a graduate of SFU’s The Writer’s Studio. She’s an author and editor and has provided manuscript consultations with the Sechelt Public Library and the Writer’s Studio. A lifelong gamer and fan of comics, she lives on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, Canada.