There was once a little brown bat who couldn't sleep days-he kept waking up and looking at the world. Before long he began to see things differently from the other bats, who from dawn to sunset never opened their eyes. The Bat-Poet is the story of how he tried to make the other bats see the world his way.
Here in The Bat-Poet are the bat's own poems and the bat's own world: the owl who almost eats him; the mockingbird whose irritable genius almost overpowers him; the chipmunk who loves his poems, and the bats who can't make beads or tails of them; the cardinals, blue jays, chickadees, and sparrows who fly in and out of Randall Jarrell's funny, lovable, truthful fable.
Best Illustrated Children's Books 1964 (NYT)
Year's Best Juveniles 1964 (NYT)
Randall Jarrell's The Bat-Poet is the story of an artist. Although the bat-poet may look like a furry mouse with wings, he swells with an artistic sensibility. One day, he discovers how amazing it is to stay awake during daylight hours, exploring things mostly unseen by standard, nocturnal bats. But when he tries to get his bat friends to stay awake with him, they say, "Day's to sleep in." And so the sensitive bat-poet is left alone to embrace the wonders of the day, including the fascinating activities of the possums, squirrels, chipmunks, and especially the mockingbird. The bat-poet attempts to sing a song like the mockingbird's, "But when he tried, his high notes were all high and the notes in between were all high," so he imitates the mockingbird's words instead, and concocts poetry about how the sun "shines like a million moons" and other daytime marvels. Children will identify with the bat-poet's struggle to be understood, and adults will revel in Jarrell's artful prose and gentle wisdom. Maurice Sendak decorates more than illustrates the book with delicate, endearing pen-and-ink sketches of woodland scenes--the perfect complement to Jarrell's lyrical, philosophical, exquisitely spun fable. School Library Journal writes, "The totality charms by turns the eye, the ear, and the imagination, and as true poetry must, it satisfies the heart." (All ages) --Karin Snelson