Book: Bats in the Band
Author/Illustrator: Brian Lies
Age Range: 4-8
Oh happy day! There is a new book in Brian Lies' Bats series, after Bats at the Library (review), Bats at the Beach, and Bats at the Ballgame (review). Lies' accomplished bats are back, and this time, they are making music with Bats in the Band. While the musical evening setting doesn't resonate quite as much for me as the earlier library or baseball game settings, it's still lovely to be immersing myself in Lies' detailed illustrations, and reading his rhyming but varied prose aloud. In this story, as night falls one evening, a number of bats experience a common yen to make music. They converge on a "summertime theater", deserted late at night, and engage in an impromptu series of musical acts.
Here are my two favorite snippets of text:
"Some bats have instruments perfect in size,
Others, without them, will just improvise.
Behind the stage curtain, they're getting in tune,
making up things out of straws, out of spoons.
"Then the shimmering vibrations
dwindle down and fade away--
and a silence fills our ears,
as loud as anything we played."
See what I mean? Each set of couplets rhymes, making Bats in the Band nice for read-aloud, but because the passages don't all have the same number of syllables, it doesn't feel sing-songy. I love how Lies uses strong vocabulary words, like "dwindle" and "shimmering".
And the bats! Set against mainly dark backdrops, the bats have finely textured fur, bright black eyes, and jaunty ears. Their instruments mostly look like real instruments. However, careful study of the illustrations reveals things like a bat guitarist sitting on a champagne cork, and scraps of straws and bottle-caps put into service as instruments.
Bats in the Band has a delightfully silly premise, brought to life with a joie de vivre that could awaken in any reader a fresh appreciation for music. Highly recommended, and a must-read for fans of the series.
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (@HMHBooks)
Publication Date: August 5, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
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