cover image BABY BAT'S LULLABY


Jacquelyn Mitchard, , illus. by Julia Noonan. . HarperCollins, $15.99 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-06-050760-2

As Mama Bat coos over her baby—"Small new prince of the dark"—readers follow the pair on their nocturnal adventures. "Field squeaker,/ Forest streaker,/ Little wings petal-light,/ Little teeth sugar white," writes Mitchard (Starring Prima! ) as the duo joyfully soars through the night sky. Even when the novice flyer gets himself entangled in a flower bush, Mama thinks he's wonderful: "My jewel so soft,/ My dancer aloft,/ My baby bat." Working in blue-hued acrylics, Noonan (When the Moon Is High ) excels at evoking a sense of place, whether it's the rural landscape on a clear night, or the toast-brown interior of the barn where the bats and their comrades make their home. She turns the barn's unfinished ceiling into an elegant interplay of lines and angles. Noonan is less successful, however, when it comes to the story's protagonists. The clunkiness of the bats' bodies and their pat expressions detract from the full-bleed, full-spread compositions. Nonetheless, the mutual delight and affection of mother and baby comes through clearly, especially when Mama envelopes her baby in a winged, upside down embrace. Ages 2-6. (Sept.)