CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 1 . . . . September 8, 2017
As the end of summer nears, Cricket McKay and her best friend, Shilo, are spending time at Grandpa McKay's farm. One night, as they are outside around a campfire, they notice small dark bodies zipping past above them—bats! Initially panicked and frightened at the unexpected sight, they quickly ran inside to escape the flying mammals. On a walk the next day, they encountered an unsettling discovery that they'd never forget…seven dead bats! Their gut tells them that it is the newly installed wind turbines causing the damage, but, to be sure of their theory, the inquisitive children begin their own investigation.
The young school age characters in this story embody four core 21st century skills and competencies: creativity, communication, collaboration, and critical thinking. Through a combination of the "4Cs", Cricket and Shilo are able to successfully devise and carry through a plan to save the migrating bats. This book is an appealing read to young readers because it shows them that it is possible to take their natural curiosities and turn them into deeper learning by leading inquiry based investigations independently. The story empowers children to make a positive difference, no matter what their age.
In addition to the intriguing storyline, Bats in Trouble is captivating because of the factual information about bats that is embedded throughout. This is the third book in a series featuring main character Cricket McKay, an animal rights activist, with the first two books being Ospreys in Danger and Salamander Rescue. Examples of information explained in Bats in Trouble include: various species of bats, their migration patterns, and echolocation. It is an interesting read, particularly for those who are curious about the unique animals.
Canadian author Pamela McDowell is passionate about wildlife and their habitats. Once a teacher, she is now a children's author, freelance writer, and presenter in Calgary, AB. She mentions that the setting for Bats in Trouble is in Pincher Creek, AB, near Waterton Lakes National Park.
Black and white sketches by illustrator Kasia Charko enhance the book. Since the chapter book is aimed at beginning readers, the illustrations help these readers create a picture in their minds of what is happening in the story. Readers may be unfamiliar with wind turbines and what a farm setting may look like; therefore, it is useful to have these images. The amount of text on each page, size of font, and amount of words per chapter make Bats in Trouble a friendly read for the age group of the intended audience.
Andrea Boyd is an early years educator in Winnipeg, MB.