cover image Bat and Rat

Bat and Rat

Patrick Jennings, illus. by Matthew Cordell. Abrams, $16.95 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4197-0160-3

Bat and Rat are best friends and a musical duo: Bat is the composer/musician and Rat is the lyricist/singer. Stuck on a song, they head to an ice cream shop, where a tragic accident (Rat is somewhat responsible for the demise of Bat’s tower of ice cream scoops) and subsequent flareup inspire a new song that celebrates their friendship. Jennings (Lucky Cap) and Cordell (Another Brother) try to put a new twist on a familiar friendship-under-pressure story, and it’s refreshing to have a children’s book take place in a nocturnal, decidedly cosmopolitan hipster world. But their storytelling never gains traction. Very little is made of the urban nighttime setting, readers get no sense of Bat and Rat’s creative process or collaboration, and yet two whole spreads are devoted to how they traverse the floors of their apartment building to meet in the lobby. Perhaps most disappointing, the much anticipated song, “Favorite Favorite,” is a hodgepodge of silly rhymes (“My favorite cheese is runny and smelly./ My favorite noodle is vermicelli”) and repetition. Ages 4–8. Agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. (May)