Saturday, November 18, 2017

Lost and Found! Stellaluna by Janell Cannon

There once lived a mother fruit bat and her new baby. Oh, how Mother Bat loved her baby.

"I'll name you Stellaluna," she crooned.

Each night, Mother Bat would carry Stellaluna clutched to her breast as she searched for food.

The little bat, lovingly named "Stars and Moon," meant everything to her night-flying mother. But even the most loving mother cannot elude all dangers.

One night, as Mother Bat followed the sent of ripe fruit, an owl spied her.

In the struggle Stellaluna loses hold of Mother and falls, her baby wings useless.

But as she falls into the forest of trees, she just manages to catch a branch by one foot. When she grows too weary to hold on, she falls, down, down--but happily she lands in a nest of new-hatched birds.

When Mama bird returns with early breakfast of bugs for her brood, Stellaluna is too hungry to be a fussy eater.

She climbed into the nest, closed her eyes, and opened her mouth.

Plop! in dropped a big green grasshopper.

As time goes by, the little bat learns the ways of birds, sleeping at night, and waking at dawn. She thrives on Mama Bird's provender, but she still sleeps hanging upside down by her feet. One day the nestlings decide to try sleeping Stellaluna's way.

"Eek!" cried Mama Bird. "You're going to fall and break your necks!"

Stellaluna has to obey the rules of the nest, and as she and the baby birds grow bigger, the nest grows full and fuller. But the little birds seem to know just what to do. One by one, Flitter, Flap, and Pip test their wings and then fly away. Flapping like her adopted siblings, Stellaluna discovers that her now strong wings work, too.

She tries to join the fledglings on a branch, but her feet seem not to be made for perching. She flew as long as she could, and still trying to follow the rules, compromised by hanging by her thumbs to rest. Stellaluna is sleeping soundly when loud voices wake her. A group of young bats are gathered 'round to see the strange bat hanging what to them seems upside down.

Stellaluna told them her story.

"You ate b-bugs?" stuttered one.

"Wait!" A big bat pushed through the crowd. "You are my baby, Stellaluna!

The lost-and-found bat is back, wrapped in her mother's welcome wings, in Janell Cannon's classic story of the foundling bat with two families, Stellaluna (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017) in its small-hand-sized board book format.

Cannon tells a heartwarming story of the love of a mother and child, with the added message that adopted siblings have a loving bond as well. There is plenty of humor as the little bat tries to imitate the baby birds, and they in turn try to imitate her, and at the happy conclusion, Stellaluna can't wait to share her newly discovered sweet fruit treats with her adopted feathered nestlings. Cannon's illustrations are both lovely and softly realistic, in a narration with a warm salute to mothering, however it happens, a worthy edition for new listeners and fledgling readers alike.

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