Reviewed By: La Tonya Nelson
Picture Book: Daft Bat (ages 5 to 10)
Author Jeanne Willis
Illustrator: Tony Ross
Daft Bat is a book written to attract children as young as three years old, with the setting taking place in the grasslands, and animals being the main characters. Bat is a new animal in the community and all of the other animals wish to offer her a warm greeting by offering her a gift. Bat requests an umbrella to help keep her feet dry. Her request has the other animals in the jungle perplexed by her thinking the umbrella will keep her feet dry, while their belief is that the umbrella will keep your head dry. Lion, Giraffe, and Elephant are so conflicted that they seek the assistance of a wise Owl to guide them on how to cope with Bat’s unique outlook. Owl meets with Bat, and comes back to the animals to make the suggestion to try and make observations through Bat’s eyes or from her perspective.
Daft Bat is a great teaching tool for vocabulary. Daft is a multiple meaning word. Depending on how you are analyzing the characters, Bat, Lion, Giraffe, and Elephant; the meaning of Daft is represented as silly or foolish based on how they are judging Bat. The alternative meaning of daft is to be infatuated with. Which I would use to describe Lion, Giraffe, and Elephant as they talked about how Bat was crazy with some of the things she said and their continuous ridicule of her . Depending on the age of the children that a teacher may read this book with, will depend on if you look into one or both definitions.
Jeanne Willis addresses the theme of looking at a situation from someone else’s perspective and to not pass judgment. Willis does that through incorporating the Wise Owl to lead Lion, Giraffe, and Elephant to give Bat the opportunity to share her perspective, and to also have an open mind. The animals do give Bat a chance to explain herself and actually hang upside down just like her to truly experience life the way she does. Through Owl’s recommendation, Lion, Giraffe, and Elephant learn that everyone’s experience might not be the same, but it is good to be open to other people’s truth. Along with having a strong theme, the author wanted the reader to laugh. Bat’s thinking was considered to be backwards to everyone else in the community, which makes the reader chuckle.
The illustrations that Tony Ross created were simple with clean lines, and had a hint of a cartoon feel that would appeal to young readers. The pictures are large and vivid enough to match the author’s message. The print was what I would describe as a standard typography, like Times New Roman. The Print is at the top and bottom of the page with the picture in the center. The size of the print is a size that is easy to read, and the page isn’t overwhelmed with too many words, which is great for new readers. The cover of the book is black piece of paper that has Bats on the cover, and the meaning of Daft is on the back. The book is a hard cover bright pink book. The cover was simple yet left you intrigued on how the author incorporated this unique word.
This book would be great for teachers to teach theme, story structure, draw conclusions, or to teach a lesson on tolerance and friendship. I have used this book in the beginning of the year to help students understand that everyone is unique and may have a different way of thinking and should be respected. Possible books to pair this would be Terrible Case of Stripes or Chrysanthymum. I believe parents would enjoy reading this book with their child to enjoy quality time and laugh at the silliness.