cover image Batwings and the Curtain of Night

Batwings and the Curtain of Night

Marguerite W. Davol. Orchard Books (NY), $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-531-30005-3

In this contemporary creation story, nocturnal creatures make a few improvements upon their domain. The world is empty and drab until the Mother of All Things throws a ball of clay into the sky with such spin that it flares into light. She shakes loose a multitude of creatures from her skirts, weaves a curtain of night from fronds and branches, and pulls night-prowling creatures from her sleeve. These last soon begin to grumble about the lack of decent light: "" `It's too dark the run,' the coyote whined. `I stub my toes on logs.' "" The animals take matters into their own hands: the owl manages to tear a moon-sized hole in the curtain of night, and the bats pierce pricks of light. GrandPre's (Chin Yu Min and the Ginger Cat) lush, dramatic pastel drawings evoke motion so adroitly--with billowing garments, unexpected perspectives and swarms of bats--that they themselves seem to ride on gusts of wind. In her extraordinary shifts of light, the sun bathes figures in a warm glow, the nighttime mission gets a scarlet backdrop and in the end, the creatures are gently backlit against a abundantly starry sky. Yet even without such striking illustrations, Davol's (How Snake Got His Hiss) narrative images are palpable enough to conjure up a new world in readers' minds. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)