Title: Owl Bat, Bat Owl.
Author/illustrator: Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Walker Books
RRP: $24.99

A family of bats joins a family of owls resting on a branch. The owls are on the top of the branch while the bats are hanging underneath. As each family moves to opposite ends of the branch to accommodate the other, a young owl and young bat begin to communicate. Parents intervene and as the families are once again settled a strong wind comes, sending the young ones off into the air. A rescue mission is begun and as the moon rises, all are safely rounded up and returned to the branch, the two families united.

This wordless picturebook has much to offer. The title on the front cover, Owl Bat Bat Owl, is inverted using the branch of the tree as the divider. The inside front cover states the two ways the book can be read. The absence of printed text and placement of the branch throughout allows for the possibility of multiple readings and mockery of traditional forms. While meaning is evident through the images, the wordless text allows young readers to make their own verbal narrative. Half way through the book the visual narrative changes when the wind arrives and the animals are thrust into the air. Clever use of line and shape indicate the speed and strength of the wind and impending chaos. The design of the end papers is reminiscent of Van Gogh’s Starry Night, in anticipation of the night-time setting. The colour is continued throughout the book, becoming deeper as night approaches and the moon rises.

The frames, front angle and placement of tree and branch are consistent throughout making this perfect for the very young viewer. Recommended for ages 0-7, school and public libraries and private collections.

Suitable story time themes include friendship, owls, bats, animals, and night-time.

Classroom ideas:

  • Owls and bats are nocturnal animals and spend time in trees. Research these animals, listing similarities and differences. Use a venn diagram to sort similarities and differences.
  • Research other nocturnal animals. Where do they go during the day? What are their activities during the night?
  • Have children retell the story, with an adult scribing, or record as a podcast.
  • Introduce the children to Van Gogh’s painting Starry Night. Talk about what can be seen in the picture.
  • Ask the children to draw a night-time scene of their own garden or backyard.

Thank you to Walker Books for supplying this book for review.