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Nightsong Hardcover – September 25, 2012

4.7 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In this gentle midnight allegory, a young bat is encouraged by his mother to strike out on his own into the wide world outside their cave. Little Chiro, far more adorable than your average bat, thanks to the puppy-dog face Long gives him, is worried about not being able to see in the dark, to which his mother offers the reassurance that there are other ways to see . . . Use your good sense. Kids up on their chiropteran knowledge will see where this is going: Chiro floats through intimidating black washes until he begins to sing, a ray of light emanating from his mouth that illuminates the path ahead as he flies past the woods, through a flock of geese, and to the pond, where he gobbles contentedly on tasty bugs. Paralleling good sense with both a song to light a path and with a bat’s echolocation might require kids to flex their conceptualization muscles a bit, but Long’s gorgeous artwork, in which the warmly hued bat flits through steep, rich darkness, goes a long way toward making this one a winner. Preschool-Grade 1. --Ian Chipman

Review

"Berk presents a delicate, lyrical story about independence, trusting one's instincts and abilities, and bats. Written in passionate prose-poetry...it's a brilliant description of echolocation and an equally strong metaphor for the logic and perception that human children can use to cut through fear."
-- Publishers Weekly


"Chiro is both alien and us, bat and beyond, childlike and knowing, a savant and anyone who grows into his/her song. This is what a picture book should be." -- Jane Yolen, bestselling author of How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?

"An ideal book for sending a child to school for the first time, tryouts for a team or a class play...[t]his lyrical, sumptuous picture book about a small bat taking his first solo night flight will inspire confidence in any child trying something new--and independently--for the first time."
-- Shelf Awareness

* "Exquisite design coupled with evocative illustrations enrich this charming tale of a little bat taking his first solo flight and how he learns to “see” with his “good sense,” otherwise known as echolocation.... Young ones will relate to Chiro and cheer as he gains confidence with his newfound skill and will be deeply satisfied flying along on his sensory-rich journey."--Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"There is nothing at all cute about bats, but don’t tell that to the talented Long...who has managed in the past to make even a tractor endearing.... Berk’s able storytelling enriches and elaborates...a message about making your way in the world. Even when you're completely in the dark." (The New York Times Book Review )

"Ari Berk's (The Secret History of Mermaids) lyrical text and Loren Long's acrylic-and-graphite nightscapes re-imagine the classic tale of a young one leaving its nest as a journey of not only independence but also of creativity.... This lyrical, sumptuous picture book about a small bat taking his first solo night flight will inspire confidence in any child trying something new--and independently--for the first time." (Shelf Talker )
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 790L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (September 25, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416978860
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416978862
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 0.5 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #171,467 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By happymama on September 29, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a cute little story about an adorable bat, Chiro, who's mother tells him it's time to go out by himself and find his own food. When Chiro expresses concern about being alone and not being able to see very well, his mother tells him, "Use your good sense... Sense is the song you sing out into the world, and the song the world sings back to you." I like this. As you might suspect, Chiro was frightened at first, but remembered his mother's words and everything went very well. The illustrations (mostly of Chiro) are absolutely enchanting.

The part I take issue with is that Chiro's mother also told him to come home after eating breakfast and to not go past the pond "unless your song is sure." Well, after he gets full he sings his loudest and goes over the ocean for a bit and then decides to go home. My kids (5 and 4) were confused as to why he kept going past the pond when his mother told him to come home, and I had to explain about his "song being sure." That's fine... but there was no story development after that. The author has a very poetic style of writing and his description of the ocean song, so to speak, was lovely... but sort of anticlimactic. Chiro just wanted to explore, which is also just fine. Again, this spurred more questions from my kids, "Why didn't she want him to go past the pond? Is it dangerous out there?" Didn't seem to be. It was just his first time out by himself and she wanted him home soon. Kids are used to stories like "Peter Rabbit" where mothers have clear rules for clear reasons. But again... it's fine.

It would be helpful for a child to have some understanding of bats and how they "see" prior to reading this story. National Geographic Kids has a great one about Bats. "Hello, Bumblebee Bat" by Darrin Lunde is also an excellent choice.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had heard rumours about this book, that it was beautiful to look at and beautiful to read, but when at last it came into my hands I could not put it down. The story is precious and written with just the right flair; the illustrations are gorgeous and whimsical. If this is a children's book I am glad to be a child again, for it has brought me back to a sense of wonder I had too long ago put in that place adults sometimes do. Thank you Ari Berk and Loren Long. Thank you for brightening my day with your song of night.
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Format: Hardcover
Reason for Reading: As strange as this sounds, I am terrified of bats in real life but I absolutely love anthropomorphic bats in books.

This is an absolutely gorgeously illustrated book about a little bat who goes out by himself for the first time using his "good sense" to see in the dark. While the story is completely cute and fictional it also manages to convey exactly how echolocation works for bats. The background of the pages are all black and textured, as if they represented the bat's hair. The bats in the story are brown bats though and contrast well against the black background. Fabulous, adorable illustrations! Chiro, the little bat is so cute! The story is a nature adventure as Chiro discovers his nighttime world and it is a story of a mother's love as she sends her son off on his own but is waiting for him with arms wide open when he returns. Oversized, thick glossy pages, a quality book!
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Format: Hardcover
Length: 6:05 Mins
I loved the artwork in this book. It was the coolest thing I have ever seen. I really wish that the artist, Loren Long, had prints of his work, because this is the kind of artwork that I want to display in my house.

The artwork is mostly blacks and dark grays, because it all takes place at night. At first Chiro, the baby bat, can't see very much at all because he's seeing with his eyes. But then his mom teaches him how to use his sense, and the world opens up to him.

And that's where it comes back to the artwork. I think it would be extremely hard to draw a whole book about the blackness of the night, and make it so it's just not a bunch of black pages. Long is adept with working with the blacks and dark grays and making the night come to life in what first looks very minimalist.

Pros:
+Awesome artwork
+Great, touching, heartwarming story
+Extremely high quality book
+The bats are very cute, with adorable floppy ears

Cons:
-A bunch of dark artwork might not be for everyone, but it was for me
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My son, aged 3, looooves this book. He is very interested in bats, so our librarian recommended this gem in addition to some non-fiction titles. We checked it out so often that we ended buying a copy. I also adore this book. The language is stirring and evocative, and the illustrations are perfectly paired with the text. It's rare that a picture book is this lush and atmospheric without being creepy. It helps that the baby bat, Chiro, has a darling little pot belly.

The premise/plot of the book, from which the title is derived, is this: Chiro (like chiro-ptera, get it?) is afraid to leave the cave on his own, because it's dark and he can't see well. His mother tells him to use his voice to "sing" out to the world, and the world will "sing" back. Sure enough, he is able to find his way by listening to the "songs" of the objects and animals in his flightpath, and he grows more confident. After finding all the bugs he can eat, he explores until night ends and it's time to return to the cave. The text never uses the term "echolocation", but the principle is clearly and beautifully described.

This is a gorgeous book! My son and I discovered it shortly after he turned three, but I'd recommend it for any child who enjoys picture books. Also good for growing readers as there is a varied and moderately difficult vocabulary.
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