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Book Review: The Bat-Poet 

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Librarian: L.J. Kopf, children's librarian at Richmond Free Library

Book: The Bat-Poet by Randall Jarrell and illustrated by Maurice Sendak

Age range: 6 and up

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Kopf's summary: Named one of the best illustrated children's books of 1964 by the New York Times, award-winning poet Randall Jarrell's charming fable tells of a little brown bat who stays awake in the daytime. While his fellow caped crusaders are fast asleep, the bat watches, fascinated, as squirrels chase one another and the sky changes from gold to pink to blue.

A mockingbird's expressive song inspires him to compose poetry about this unfamiliar sunlit world, but finding listeners who will appreciate his observations is difficult. He can't recite his poetry to the owl; he might get eaten. And the other bats just don't understand him. But with the encouragement of a friendly chipmunk and even the haughty mockingbird, the sensitive bat-poet learns to develop his artistic voice.

The Bat-Poet is rich with beautifully cadenced poetry and prose, making it a deeply satisfying read for both children and adults. Black-and-white ink drawings by Maurice Sendak — best known for Where the Wild Things Are — capture the story's detailed natural world.

If you like this, try: Jarrell has written several other books for children: Fly by Night, The Gingerbread Rabbit and Newbery Honor Book The Animal Family.

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