(This review first appeared in the June edition of The Edge of the Forest)

Bat’s Big Game
Retold by Margaret Read MacDonald
Illustrated by Eugenia Nobati
Albert Whitman & Company
ISBN: 9780807505878
$16.95
Grades K-2
In Stores

Author of aught seven standout “Little Rooster’s Diamond Button” is back with this retelling of an all too common schoolyard occurrence: switching teams when losing looks eminent. “Bat’s Big Game” will be a nice addition to teacher’s collections and will work well as a classroom read aloud.

Bat is anxious to take part in the Birds vs. Animals soccer game. The thing is, Bat wants to be on the winning side. He sizes up each team, decides that the Animals have it in the bag, and joins their side. It helps that bat straddles the line between the two species – the wings of a bird, but also the fur and teeth of animals. When Team Animal falls behind on the scoreboard, Bat makes a switch to the other team. The birds accept him but the animals go on a scoring tear, nudging ahead in goals. When Bat tries to trade sides again, the jig is up and he is banned from both squads. Lesson learned and price paid, Bat sulks off to practice his skills for next time.

As I was reading, I couldn’t help but think this question: why is the soccer game birds vs. animals and not birds vs. mammals? After all, aren’t birds animals too? Maybe there’s a good reason for this, but it struck me as odd.

Eugenia Nobati’s digital illustrations continue to blur lines between paper/canvas and computer artwork. I would have placed a wager that these were the former. Solid nonetheless. If I asked 10 random folks the first word that came to their mind when they looked at the illustrations in “Bat’s Big Game”, I’m guessing “cute” would be response numero uno. Softly textured characters exist within a world of slightly hazy, vague landscapes. If you know Rob Scotton’s work on the “Russel the Sheep” books, then you can get a sense of the style.

“Bat’s Big Game” is more of a “serves a purpose” book than a pure “just for the fun of it” story, but it fills it’s role of addressing schoolyard mischief with success.

Find this book at your local library with WorldCat.

This book is up for grabs in the 100 Scope Notes Book Giveaway.