cover image Nightsong


Ari Berk, illus. by Loren Long. Simon & Schuster, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-4169-7886-2

Berk (The Secret History of Giants) presents a delicate, lyrical story about independence, trusting one’s instincts and abilities, and bats. Written in passionate prose-poetry, it stars Chiro, a bat who is nervous about his first solo venture. Momma reassures him that his “good sense” will help him find his way. “Sense is the song you sing out into the world, and the song the world sings back to you.” It’s a brilliant description of echolocation and an equally strong metaphor for the logic and perception that human children can use to cut through fear. Long’s (Otis and the Tornado) soft lines convey the concept clearly; surrounded by ink-black night, Chiro’s song illuminates a cone-shaped area in front of him, which reveals trees, geese, and other surprises in the dark. The only odd note is Chiro himself; Long opts for an anthropomorphized hero with huge ears, fuzzy texturing, and a quizzical look—he’s more flying teddy bear than bat. Still, if his cuddly looks and Berk’s insights make bats and their swooping flight less mysterious, it’s all for the good. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)