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,

Bats at the Library by Brian Lies. Houghton Mifflin, ©2008. ISBN 9780618999231 (hardcover), 32p.


Jen said...

How adorable! Looks like a good one for my nephew! Thanks Lesa!

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Jen. This is an adorable book. We just ordered another copy for the library. This book is a treasure.

wisteria said...

Lesa, You are so right. My students in elementary media classes loved hearing this book. They wanted it read over and over again. It was the perfect book to integrate with a number of lessons. It is a treasure and I hope more are on the way. The illustrations are awesome!!!

Lesa...check out my raffles on my blog.

pattinase (abbott) said...

This is a gorgeous book. And I also like the earlier one Bats at the Beach, but at night, of course. Great concept.

Brian Lies said...

HI, Lesa-

Thanks so much for the comments! It's a real honor to be on anyone's "pick list," and I appreciate being on yours.

The library in BATS AT THE LIBRARY is a real one--in Riverside, IL, where my grandparents lived and my father grew up. I got to know it through childhood trips, and thought it was the coolest building I'd ever been in. If any of your readers are ever in Riverside (near the Brookfield Zoo), I hope they'll stop in and see the book's inspiration!

Best wishes, Brian

Lesa said...

Thanks, Wisteria!

I'm glad you thought I was right on target with this book. (I had a few complaints - more than a few - about one of my last reviews of a juv novel). I just loved this book.

Lesa said...


Isn't this a gorgeous book. I'm going to have to pick up Bats at the Beach. But, I'm sure it won't beat out Bats at the Library in my heart. (smile)

Lesa said...

Hi Brian,

Thank you so much for a gorgeous book! I loved all of the details in the book, and I've already passed it on to two other people, as well as mentioning it on my blog. And, I know I missed some of the details.

But, the picture of the bats sitting there for storytime is very special.

Thank you for showcasing a library that was special to you as a child. Libraries need that love nowadays.

If I was still in Florida, this would also be special. We had bats brought in for a children's program because we had bats under a bridge in our county, and they were celebrated.

If we ever get to Riverside, we'll definitely check out the library!

wisteria said...

Your welcome!!
A review is an opinion and with that said, I value yours. I never order books for my library based on one review. Reviewers should always feel free to express their candid thoughts about books they read. Thanks for all you do to inform your readers of books you have read and giving us your viewpoint. :-)

Lesa said...

Thank you, Wisteria. I really appreciate your comments. Most readers have that same opinion you do, that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, whether or not you agree with them. Some books just seem to bring out avid defenders.

debnance said...

I must get this book for my school library.

Lesa said...

Did you check out his website, Debnance? It shows a picture from the book, and you can see how gorgeous it is. I'm sure you'll want it for the school library.

gautami tripathy said...

This sounds fun! I gonna check it out!

SS 1: Lost and Found/Sarah's Key
SS 2: The Triumph of Deborah

Lesa said...

It is a fun book, Gautami!

Les said...

Thanks for the recommendation, Lesa. I can't tell you how many times, in the past week, I've had a customer say, "I need the perfect book for my grandchild - he/she's 3 - 6 - 8. This is going on my list to recommend! Much appreciated!

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Les! I wish my Mom still had a grandchild that age. I'd love to recommend that book to a family member. We don't have anyone that young right now, and it will probably be 6-7 years from now since none of my nieces or nephews are married yet. Nothing like wanting kids to give a book to! (grin)

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