cover image Little Lost Bat

Little Lost Bat

Sandra Markle, , illus. by Alan Marks. . Charlesbridge, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-57091-656-4

Markle (the Outside and Inside series) turns her attention to the Mexican free-tailed bat set in central Texas's Bracken Cave, a nursery cave home only to female bats and their babies. "Even though the rock cave is as huge/ as a cathedral, it's steamy hot/ from the body heat of/ millions of female bats." The descriptive narrative immerses readers in this intimate setting, as it describes one bat's birth and early days. Markle sugarcoats nothing, least of all the predator-prey relationships. A lurking snake "snags a baby bat for dinner." The mother of the title bat traps and eats a moth, only to become a barn owl's supper a week later. Readers might be surprised at this turn of events, given previous snuggly nursing scenes. ("For three days and nights, he searches/ and cries for her to find him.") Marks, who collaborated with Markle on A Mother's Journey , provides realistic, elegant watercolor-and-ink paintings; their dusky blues and purples mirror some of the nocturnal subject's mystery. Many scenes glow with an almost translucent effect from the moon. Audiences will be somewhat comforted when a mother that has lost her own baby adopts the orphaned bat. Author notes, resources and additional bat facts wrap up this informative, moving nature exploration. Ages 6-9. (July)