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Review: ‘Science Comics: Bats, Learning to Fly’

Science Comics: Bats, Learning to Fly
By Falynn Koch
All Ages (9-13)
First Second, February, 2017

Bats are sadly one of the most misunderstood mammals. Being nocturnal and associated with vampires and darkness hasn’t helped their reputation. Bats, nicknamed “Sky Puppies” by the internet, are a harmless and helpful species that humans should learn more about. Fortunately, Science Comics is here to do just that with Bats: Learning to Fly.

A little brown bat is out hunting for insects and gets lost. He sees several bugs surrounding a group of humans out for a desert nighttime hike to view nectar-eating bats and gets injured when a couple panics. He is taken to a wild animal hospital where he meets several different species of bat, all rehabilitating like him. One the human side, the daughter of the couple that injured the little brown bat comes to check on him and ends up staying to intern for the summer with the vet in charge.

While Little Brown Bat is the perspective character through the majority of this book, his guide to the world of bats is Old Gray, a gray bat who was injured by a cat so severely that he can’t be returned to the wild. Old Gray shows Little Brown around their cage, introducing him to fruit-eaters, nectar-eaters, omnivorous eaters, and insect-eaters. In each group, he learns where they come from, what their major job is, and how they got there. Most of the bats ended up at the hospital due to humans or cats. Little Brown is weirded out at first by the different sizes and diets of the other groups, but eventually learns that it’s okay to be different. It’s an interesting analog to the way humans react to bats.

Running parallel, but not incorporated into the story, is an array of facts about bats: their weird and different faces, why and how they hang upside down, how echolocation works, and where they like to roost. On the human side, the vet, Doctor Reba, and the daughter, Sarah, talk about the care of the bats while at the hospital and finally where they go to be released. It was a nice change to see the parents, and not the daughter, be the ones to freak out and not really listen to the ranger.

The art for this book is uniquely done. The panels are drawn from the bat’s perspective, and since they spend most of their time upside down, the bats are right side up, but the people, background and even parts of the cage are turned upside down. It’s quite clever,and subtly done, so you don’t really notice it at first, but once you do, it’s a cool little detail.

Bats: Learning to Fly is a great education tool for learning not just about bats, but also about how we humans can help to protect them. It covers the different occupations that are helpful to bats and explains how to make a bat box for local bats to rest during the day. Bats help renew the environment, pollinate nocturnal flora, and keep the insect population down. With all that they do for the environment, shouldn’t we return the favor?

Lori Henderson About Lori Henderson

Lori Henderson is a mother of two teenage daughters and an avid reader. She blogs about manga at her personal blog Manga Xanadu as well as contributing and editing for Manga Village. She blogs about all things fandom (mainly Doctor Who) at her other personal blog Fangirl Xanadu. She's been at it so for over 5 years now and counting!

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