Mary Kay Carson,
The Bat Scientists
(Houghton Mifflin, 2010)

The photographs are startling in their beauty.

I mean, let's face it, bats aren't known as being especially handsome creatures. But photographer Tom Uhlman, with a combination of in-your-face close-ups and impressive vistas, has rendered bats majestic, personable, even cute.

That's talent.

But the heart of The Bat Scientists is Mary Kay Carson's informative, easy-to-understand text. Her subject here is twofold: she imparts a vast amount of knowledge about bats and, as the title suggests, an equal amount of detail on the people who study them, strive to protect them and do their best to explode the myths that lead people to fear, hate and kill them.

Although targeted for younger readers, The Bat Scientists never talks down to its audience. It's also equally interesting to adult readers; I consider myself reasonably well educated, but I never felt like Carson's presentation here was beneath me. In fact, I found myself fascinated by the subject -- and appalled by the ignorant violence directed at bats over the years. The actions of misguided people, combined with increasing development and the modern plague known as white-nose syndrome, is coming close to wiping out many species of bat.

But, as readers will learn, bats are good to have around. They're kind of cool. They rarely carry rabies, they almost never fly into your hair and they eat so many flying insects that I want a whole bunch of them to move into my yard. In fact, I just might install a bat house. Meanwhile, you should take a look at this book, share it with a child and learn a few things yourself about this misunderstood mammal.

book review by
Tom Knapp

4 September 2010

Agree? Disagree?
Send us your opinions!

what's new