Lies, Brian. Bats At the Beach. HMH Books, 2016 (reprint). ISBN 978-0544668409 32 pp. $7.99
The family beach excursion is a universal experience for coastal New Englanders – kids packed in the car; the food, fun, surf and sun to excess followed by a sleepy trip home. Bats at the Beach is an imaginative take on the trip; how do nocturnal creatures enjoy the beach? By moonbathing under the full moon, of course!
The unique character choice allows Lies to play with perspective–angles from the air, and one upside down at the snack bar picture with phenomenal reproduction of a bare lightbulb. A palette of midnight blues and indigo are a perfect backdrop to silvery moonshine and golden firelight. The emotion detailed on the faces of these mammals is breathtaking: the glee of flying, clenched-teeth displeasure at icy water, and distress over a bug-mallow on fire are recognizable emotions of the toddler set.
Although the meter is inconsistent, the AABB rhyme pattern lends the text a cadence that fits the playful nature of the story. The words captivate, and the illustrations are perfectly paired to extend the poetic text. “Launching out into the breeze,/we sail above the darkened trees,/flying fast, to wet our feet/where land and foamy ocean met” shows bats on the wing, moonlight glittering off soft fur and edges of wings. Sure to delight, this book will work in storytime or one-one on, on and off the beach.