• Happy birthday Ray Bradbury (The Halloween Tree, Switch On the Night), and Will Hobbs (Downriver).
  • In 1864, 12 European nations sign the First Geneva Convention, establishing laws for the care and treatment of prisoners of war. Read Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene.
  • On this day in 1902, Theodore Roosevelt becomes the first president of the United States to ride in an automobile. Read Bully For You, Teddy Roosevelt! by Jean Fritz, illustrated by Mike Wimmer, and The Great Adventure: Theodore Roosevelt and the Rise of Modern America by Albert Marrin.
  • Althea Gibson becomes the first black competitor in international tennis on this day in 1950. Read Nothing But Trouble: The Story of Althea Gibson by Sue Stauffacher, illustrated by Greg Couch, and Playing to Win by Karen Deans, illustrated by Elbrite Brown.
  • It’s Be an Angel Day. Read Green Angel by Alice Hoffman and How Angel Peterson Got His Name by Gary Paulsen.

As I mentioned yesterday, August serves as National Beach Month, reminding us to get out and enjoy this environment before the summer season ends. When I think of beaches, dogs instantly come to mind. But what if creatures we don’t normally associate with it inhabited the beach?

Incongruity, of course, can be one of the most powerful tools in the hands of a creative artist. Brian Lies, who has added his illustrative charm to a plethora of children’s books, brought together the beach and an unusual visitor. While his second-grade daughter was getting ready for the school bus one December morning, she pointed to a bumpy frost pattern on the window and said, “Look, Daddy. It’s a bat, with sea foam.” As soon as she was on the bus, he pulled out a yellow legal pad and started writing and drawing. Bats at the Beach begins with an inviting bat, surfing the waves. This version of the frost pattern on the window serves as Lies’s way of thanking his daughter for the idea behind the book.

Against a dark blue night background, when “the moon is just perfect for bats at the beach,” the bats prepare for their outing just as human families do. Buckets, shovels, banjoes, blankets, books, and towels get strapped to their backs and under their wings before they fly off. The bats have all of the appropriate accoutrements—including moon-tan lotion—and they make creative use of what has been left behind by people that day. Bats fly each other as kites; they play volleyball; they slip notes in a bottle to go out to sea; and they use discarded cardboard cartons for boat races. Admittedly, most of their gastronomic fare sounds a bit repulsive—beetles, ants, moths, pickled slugs. But Lies remains true to bat behavior, even in fantasy. Certainly one of the most inventive picnic treats ever invented, bug-mallows toasted on slender sticks, looks familiar, although I don’t think I would eat one. When they head to the snack bar, they hang upside down and chase moths for desert. And, before the sun rises, these happy creatures head home, to sleep and dream about their experiences.

Every time I read this book, the bats’ adventures sound like such fun that I almost  want to be a bat for an evening. If you go to the beach today, daylight hours will probably be best. But take along a copy of Bats at the Beach. This celebration of bats enjoying the simple pleasures of beach living will keep children ages three through eight laughing, turning the pages, and asking for it to be read again.

Here’s a page from Bats at the Beach:


Originally posted August 22, 2011. Updated for .

Tags: Animals, Bats, Food, Nature, Seasons, Summer
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for Bats at the Beach


  1. suzi w. says:

    Isn’t it amazing at how many books wouldn’t have been written if someone hadn’t said something silly? I thought I had read this until you showed the page. Must be it’s been recommended to me again and again, along with Bats at the library. Love the toothpick style paper umbrellas!!

    A great followup to these should be a book about the bats in Austin, something I never would have believed if I hadn’t been there to see.


  2. G.Perry says:

    I loved Bats at the Ballgame, and the art is extraordinary. Lots of fun.

  3. Barb says:

    We had Brian Lies come for an author visit to our school and I use the phrase his talk led up to all the time:
    Practice Makes Better!

  4. Kelly says:

    I love this book! I read it to my preschoolers quite a few times. They always told me the book was upside down when we got to the snack bar–where the bats hang upside-down to eat. Enjoyable for all!!

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