Module 1 — About Reading

Bats at the Library by Brian Lies


Lies, B. (2008). Bats at the library. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company.


When an open window at the library is discovered by a colony of bats, they all excitedly flock in for a night of fun.  The experienced bats are happy to have another chance to enjoy the books, and the younger bats are eager to see the library for the first time. Storytime is a treat for the young bats, and others settle in for some comfortable reading in the library’s various sections. The library is portrayed as a fun and exciting place, and many different types of books are featured as ways of having new adventures.

My Impressions

This book is a nice celebration of reading and the library.  The illustrations are bright and appealing, and the rhyming verse is catchy.  I think the book does a good job of showing the library to be a fun place that’s full of all kinds of entertainment and knowledge.  I’d like to see a book with a similar theme aimed at readers who are a little older.  As it stands, this book could be used with kids who are slightly older than the intended audience if the students are challenged to explain a more in-depth tour of the library.


From School Library Journal

PreSchool-Grade 3—In this companion to Bats at the Beach (Houghton, 2006), Lies pays homage to the pleasures to be found within libraries and books. The story opens on three winged creatures clinging to an autumnal branch against the backdrop of evening. Observant readers will recognize the young bat with yellow “water wings” from the earlier title and notice that the chimney and trees at the top of the page point downward—a cue to attend to perspective. The bats are bored, but an antidote is announced: someone left a window open in the library. The golden glow from spotlights on the side of the building and an Arts and Crafts-style reading lamp illuminate the nocturnal adventures in this handsome, traditional space. The bats cluster according to interests. Some peruse “guides to fancy foods” (insect books) and form literary discussion groups. The younger mammals make images of themselves at the copier, frolic in the fountain, play at the computer, and explore the gingerbread castle in a pop-up book. An impromptu storytime brings everyone together, however, and after the pint-size protagonist is literally drawn into the featured book, two spreads reveal a montage of scenes from classic stories, with bats in the starring roles. Lies’s acrylics are a successful fusion of fantasy and reality. The rhyming narrative is generally smooth, with enough humor and sophistication to propel readers along. And who can argue with the message?—Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Lies’s (Bats at the Beach) much-lauded bats are back and the library’s got them—thanks to a window left open by an unsuspecting (or perhaps sympathetic) librarian. Although the young ones initially misbehave (they make photocopies of their bodies and turn the water fountain into a splash pool), Lies cuts them a little slack: It’s hard to settle down and read/ when life flits by at dizzy speed. Story time settles everyone (upside-)down, and soon the furry creatures are completely swallowed up in books, giving Lies comic license to bat-tify the signature visuals from classics like Make Way For Ducklings; Pippi Longstocking; Goodnight, Moon and Peter Rabbit. As with its predecessor, this book’s richly detailed chiaroscuro paintings find considerable humor at the intersection where bat and human behavior meet. But the author/artist outdoes himself: the library-after-dark setting works a magic all its own, taking Lies and his audience to a an intensely personal place. Ages 4–8. (Aug.)

Using in the Library

The bats explore various parts of the library.  Ask the students, where are those parts of our library?  What are some other sections of our library that bats or other visiting creatures might explore?


About Boyd Waltman

Boyd Waltman is a film editor in Houston, Texas.
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