cover image Bat Jamboree

Bat Jamboree

Kathi Appelt. HarperCollins Publishers, $15.95 (24pp) ISBN 978-0-688-13882-0

Woodland and barnyard animals flock to a midsummer Bat Jamboree at an abandoned drive-in theater in this grinningly batty counting book. At the words ""the houselights went down,"" the sun sets and moonlight floods the movie screen. ""Then.../ 1 bat sang./ 2 bats flapped./ 3 bats cha-cha-ed./ 4 bats tapped,"" until 10 teams of talented chiropterans appear. Afterward, the performers count backward to make a pyramid with 10 bats at the bottom, nine on their shoulders and so on. Appelt (Bayou Lullaby) describes the show in bouncy but sometimes forced rhymes: ""The time came, at last, for the grand finale: / The Acro-Bats!/ Yes, there were 10 bats in all-e."" Her most humorous moment comes when ""the bat lady sings."" Sweet (A House by the Sea; the Pinky and Rex books) serves up airy watercolors. Her mousy-gray bats have snaggly overbites, wide eyes and colorful vests; their facial expressions vary from apprehensive to thrilled, and the attending bears, moose, sheep and ducks watch appreciatively. There's a nervous energy in these pictures that will almost surely disarm the reader, right off the bat. Ages 3-up. (Aug.)