The story behind the story
I am so sorry this book is out of print. Definitely my favorite for read-alouds at school visits. “A bat flew into the dining room / at the hotel restaurant, by the lake./ Mistake.” Only “strange Melissa, at school they called her weird” is able to free the bat from the restaurant’s pandemonium of frightened diners. School Library Journal: ” …an evocative, lyrical prose poem in this tale of one frantic flying mammal and one quiet young girl who really cares what happens to it.”
School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3. It would be difficult to imagine a less poetic theme than that of a bat accidentally trapped in the posh dining room of a summer resort. However, Dragonwagon has woven an evocative, lyrical prose poem in this tale of one frantic flying mammal and one quiet young girl who really cares what happens to it. While the excited, well-heeled patrons escape to the lobby, and the tuxedo-garbed staff run for brooms and other weapons, Melissa remains alone in the dining room. Unhurriedly, and with calm resolve, she lures the bat to an emergency door, where it flies into the starry night to freedom. The spare text combines internal rhyme and interesting word juxtapositions to create the appropriate mood. The contrast of uproar and quiet, agitation and calm combine to build a story from one brief incident. Schindler’s beautiful illustrations, a combination of colored pencil and watercolor on pastel paper, become a harmonious complement to the text. The artist has juxtaposed the luminous views of a summer night on a lake and the almost-deserted dining room with cartoonlike portraits of the hysterical summer guests, overly dressed and coifed. His careful rendering of the terrified bat in full flight captures the essence of the animal’s beauty and predicament. Not since Janell Cannon’s Stellaluna (Harcourt, 1993) has there been a more attractive bat epic. “Batman and Robin” can wait; young readers will have a much better time at this summer place.?Martha Rosen, Edgewood School, Scarsdale, NY
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
“A bat flew into the dining room,/at the hotel restaurant by the lake./Mistake.” Dragonwagon (Alligators and Others All Year Long, 1993, etc.) pens a lilting, loosely rhymed text about a bat who finds itself in an alien indoor environment, the human pandemonium that ensues, and the observant little girl who imagines how the bat must feel. She sensibly opens the emergency exit door to let it fly free, “a moving breeze of joy against the sky.” Schindler’s detailed colored pencil and watercolor illustrations contrast the peace of a summer night–moonlight shining on the lake and on the brown-shingled walls of a grand old lake resort–with the brightly lit frenzy inside, where hysterical diners scramble to escape the bat. Only Melissa holds still and keeps her wits about her. Her identifying with the frightened bat will draw readers in, and her pleasure at its escape provides a satisfying conclusion. A surprising, lovely book. (Picture book. 5-8) — Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, December 1997
The cool-headed, clear-eyed, and compassionate Melissa is a most admirable character….Schindler’s pencil and watercolor illustrations softly depict…a plethora of characters right out of a kinder, gentler Altman movie.
- Reading level: Ages 5 and up
- Library Binding
- Publisher: Cavendish Children’s Books (September 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0761450076
- ISBN-13: 978-0761450078
- Product Dimensions: 10 x 8.1 x 0.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds