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Bat's Big Game Hardcover – March 1, 2008
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From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3—In this retelling of a traditional fable, Bat cannot decide whether he wants to be on the Animals' or the Birds' soccer team. At first he chooses the Animals, but when they start to fall behind, he switches to the Birds. When they start to lose, he tries to switch back. The Animals find his lack of loyalty distasteful and eject him from the game. The text is compact and has an innate rhythm characteristic of a veteran storyteller. Nobati's full-page, digitally created color illustrations are highly stylized. Readers must look carefully at some of the players to try to decide what kind of animal they are. Despite this, the pictures are full of action and re-create the mood of a heated soccer game.—Donna Cardon, Provo City Library, UT
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
It’s time for the Animals versus Birds soccer game. Bat only wants to play on the winning team, though, and he decides that the Animals have a better shot at victory. Showing off his teeth and fur, Bat convinces the Animals that he belongs with them, but when the Birds start winning, Bat slips away, removes his “A” jersey, and, spreading his wings, convinces the Birds that he is one of them. Then the Animals regain the lead, and Bat tries to change sides again. Bat learns his lesson, though, when Bear tells him that “a good player sticks with the team, even when they are losing.” MacDonald’s retelling of an Aesop tale features a lively cast of diverse animals and birds. The text incorporates font and punctuation cues to inspire lively read-alouds, and the colorful, stylized digital illustrations feature animated soccer action and comical characters. Kids will find Bat’s escapades entertaining, and they may also appreciate the lessons in loyalty and sportsmanship. A brief author’s note cites the story’s source. Grades K-3. --Shelle Rosenfeld
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A bat is a mammal. Why wouldn't you have the Mammal team against the Bird team? Two animal groups would make much more sense. Instead, it's birds vs animals. Birds are very clearly animals.
Bottom line, not worth the confusing ride this book takes. As a teacher AND a parent, I enjoy my fiction peppered with non-fiction facts that are accurate.
We compared this story with one from our anthology, but the other book is available online titled: "The Great Ball Game: A Muskogee Story" by Joseph Burchac.
The two main characters are so different, but the storyline was very similar, that it made for a great discussion in our comparison. This led to great writing by the students as they determinied similarities and differences between the two stories.
It was an excellent book to teach the standard.
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.