Batty by Sarah Dyer

cover image

Frances Lincoln Children's Books, 2011. ISBN: 978 1847801593.
Recommended for ages 4 and above. Living in the zoo, Batty feels he is often ignored by the visitors, despite his best efforts to make himself more interesting and appealing. As he visits the other animals, he tries to become more like them. With each visit to a different creature, he becomes more despondent and feels less as though he belongs. Only at the very end of the story does he realise that he does have one very important skill which he must learn to value more highly.
Author/illustrator, Dyer, provides few words in this simple story. Her illustrations are cleverly matched to the text on each page. They add a great deal of humour as they depict the various animals in their zoo enclosures, each behaving in their own unique manner, with Batty endeavouring to join in. Images of penguins scoring one another's dives, the flea circus depicted with the gorillas and the lions lazing in the sun with sunscreen and tanning lotion whilst reading '101 Ways to Cook Zebra', make this book accessible to readers of different ages. Perspective in the illustrations adds yet another dimension to the story. On some pages, the pictures appear to be 'the right way up', yet on others the bat seems to be humanised and standing erect with the whole book needing to be rotated in order to read the text. Friendship and appreciating our individual or unique strengths and differences are key themes in this book which could be an asset to many classroom units, even for students in middle primary classes.
Jo Schenkel