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Stellaluna is a beautifully illustrated about friendship, love, and being true to yourself. It just so happens to be about bat. If your child likes bats they will be delighted by this lovely, gentle looking fruit bat. But many children are frightened of bats. I do not normally recommend books about subjects a child is terrified of, but in this case I would make an exception. I can't imagine any child who wouldn't warm to this adorable creature. Bats really are harmless. There are about 1,200 species of bat. Of these 3 drink blood. None of these live in the UK. Bats are only a threat to small insects. A single bat can eat 1,000 mosquitoes in only 1 hour. Bats in the UK almost never carry rabies.* Bats do not attack people, do not get tangled in their hair, and do not turn into vampires, but the myths persist and children are needlessly frightened. I think this book would go a long ways towards easing any fears. Of course if your child already likes bats, this will just be a cute story.
Stellaluna is the story of little fruit bat. While Stellaluna is still too young to fly, her mother is attacked by an owl and baby bats falls helplessly towards the ground. This section may upset some children, but this does have a happy ending. Thankfully the wee bat's fall is broken by some branches before she tumbles into a nest, with three little birds. The young birds are cheerful little creatures and quickly welcome Stellaluna. The mother bird allows Stellaluna to stay - but only if she behaves like bird, denying who she is. Poor Stellaluna, she must eat bugs ( yuck) sleep in the day, and never hang upside down. The young birds accept her as she is though and they become fast friends.
This isn't quite the type of story my sons usually enjoy. They tend to go more for action and adventure, or at least dragons and dinosaurs, but their is something so heart warming about this, that my youngest does still enjoy this just before bed. This is such a lovely story, that reaffirms a mother's love and leaves you with a warm and fuzzy feeling. Of course they both love the Mother bird screeching and scolding as well. The illustrations are nothing short of works of art. the bats are truly beautiful. In addition to this, there is a very nice section at the end with facts about bats, making this very educational, and both of my sons enjoyed this part of the book.
I think this book best suits younger children. I would recommend from around age two, perhaps even 18 months of age if the child really enjoys stories. At nearly 5, my youngest still enjoys this book, but it is just a bit too cute for the eight year old. So I think 2 -6 would be a very good age range, although I would go over the age recommendation for a child who really loves bats, or who is frightened of them. Some adults will enjoy this as well, and in fact I suggested this for review specifically because I know one dooyoo member who just has to have this book if she doesn't already.
Read this and you'll never look at bats quite the same way :)
I have waivered as whether to include a spoiler for this book or not. I have decided to go ahead simply because I have had to write to a few dooyoo members to make sure a book does not have an ending that will result in it never being read again. As a parent - I want to know if a book suits my child. I have promised a happy ending - but different people have different ideas as to what constitutes a happy ending. If you don't want to know what happens - please stop reading here.
************ ************MAJOR SPOILER ALERT*************************
I did mention that Stellaluna's mother was attacked, and it first it looks like she has been killed. My sons have never liked stories where the mother is killed, and even if she lived happily ever after with the birds - this still would not have been a happy ending to them. Her mother did survive and they are reunited in a very touching scene. Stellaluna learns to live like a bat again and rejoices in being able to be herself. She doesn't forget the birds though, and there is an absolutely delightful scene at the end with three little birds huddled on a branch while Stellaluna hangs from another branch above them, gently reaching down and wrapping them in her wings as they all ponder about how they can be so different and yet be so much alike. Of course it is love that they have in common.
BATS AND RABIES
* While rabies is almost unheard of in UK bats, a massive study with 10,000 bats tested did reveal 9 which had been exposed to European Bat Lyssavirus a rabies like virus. This has only been transmitted to a human once - through a bite. The human was bat conversation worker handling the bat at the time. Even if infected, the bats will not attack humans, but any wild animal may bite if frightened. Unless you are physically handling bats, there is no risk whatsoever, even if 100's live in your roof space. The only chance of infection is if you pick a bat up. If you wish to help an injured bat, gloves are advised as a precaution. If you should find a bat call place in a dark box with a cloth and small plastic bottle cap with water and call the Bat Helpline 0845 1300 228 for advice. Do not handle more than necessary or allow children to do so - not so much for your safety but for the animals. The stress is apt to kill it. Children should be taught that bats are not an animal to feared - but no child should handle a sick or injured wild animal. If they find a hurt animal - they should get their parents.
Amazon sells the board book @ £5.23. There are a few paperbacks listed, but in German or Spanish. The Hardback edition is only available used. I bought my copy for under £3 from ebay but it is listed on Amazon closer to £5. I do feel this is worth the price though.