Mr Bat wants a hat by Kitty Black and Laura Wood
Mr Bat is a happy bat. He loves swooping, flapping and making friends with insects (before he eats them!). But when he spots people wearing hats he realises what he has been missing all his life. He simply MUST have one. It is the most beautiful, glittery, flowery hat that makes his eyes pop with love, and after snatching it from a helpless baby's head Mr Bat has two voices in his head: the first says 'Oh. A sad baby. She likes hats too', while the second says 'Too bad!'. Children may be awed or amused by Mr Bat's absolute selfishness as he awards himself the 'Best Dressed Bat Award' to an exasperated audience of animals. But his conscience finally gets the better of him; he swoops in and returns the hat to the still-screaming baby. 'I like hats too, but this one belongs to you', he whispers. Young listeners will see how his good behaviour is rewarded, as the baby hands him her socks. Mr Bat is delighted - 'hats are so last season anyway'. The last page, showing Mr Bat coveting a pair of roller-skates, provides perfect post-reading discussion material.
This is a good book for conversations about not taking things that belong to others, doing the right thing, fixing mistakes and about kindness begetting kindness. The moral of the story is completely front and centre and it acknowledges the difficulty of making the right choices and how sometimes we can be conflicted between getting something we want and being kind to others. The simplicity of the story is what makes this perfect for the target age group, all of whom will identify with Mr Bat's dilemma or of being in the position of the baby and how it feels to have something precious taken from them. This can lead to discussions about how we can pause to look at things from someone else's perspective before taking action. It also provides opportunity to talk about what to do if you have a friend like Mr Bat, as in the story the friends are just going along with his appalling behaviour rather than calling it out. Some people might be put off by Mr Bat being rewarded for giving the hat back, considering he stole it in the first place, but I think for children it's a perfect example of how mistakes can be fixed, and if taking the perspective of the baby, how we can be forgiving.
Themes: Desire, Possessions, Empathy, Selfishness, Forgiveness.