Reviews for Nightsong

Booklist Reviews 2012 September #2
In this gentle midnight allegory, a young bat is encouraged by his mother to strike out on his own into the wide world outside their cave. Little Chiro, far more adorable than your average bat, thanks to the puppy-dog face Long gives him, is worried about not being able to see in the dark, to which his mother offers the reassurance that there are other ways to see . . . Use your good sense. Kids up on their chiropteran knowledge will see where this is going: Chiro floats through intimidating black washes until he begins to sing, a ray of light emanating from his mouth that illuminates the path ahead as he flies past the woods, through a flock of geese, and to the pond, where he gobbles contentedly on tasty bugs. Paralleling good sense with both a song to light a path and with a bat's echolocation might require kids to flex their conceptualization muscles a bit, but Long's gorgeous artwork, in which the warmly hued bat flits through steep, rich darkness, goes a long way toward making this one a winner. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Spring
Through predominantly black spreads, young bat Chiro reluctantly navigates the way from his cave to the pond all by himself for a late-night feeding. The allegory of facing fears of the unknown is as gentle as Long's subdued colors and nightscapes. However, echolocation, described as a song but illustrated as a beam of light, may present a confusing conceptual leap.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 August #2
Exquisite design coupled with evocative illustrations enrich this charming tale of a little bat taking his first solo flight and how he learns to "see" with his "good sense," otherwise known as echolocation. Although picture books about bats abound, small Chiro will capture readers' hearts immediately. When the bat-mother tells her child it is time for him to fly alone, the little one shares his fears about the darkness and his inability to see. His mother instructs him on what to do--"sing out into the world, and [listen to] the song the world sings back to you. Sing, and the world will answer. That is how you'll see." Up to this point, Long, utilizing acrylics and graphite, features the two creatures up close in toasty browns against a textured dark background. When the mother lets Chiro go, the page turn reveals an emotional change in perspective. No longer is the young bat cuddly and large on the page; now he appears tiny and vulnerable in the immense black spread. Talented storytelling features rich yet concrete language to describe and to build suspense during the bat's nocturnal trip. Vague but frightening shapes in the dark become defined as trees, bugs, geese and ocean waves in the bluish-green tones used to render a visual of the bat's echolocation. Young ones will relate to Chiro and cheer as he gains confidence with his newfound skill and will be deeply satisfied flying along on his sensory-rich journey. (Picture book. 4-7) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 July #5

Berk (The Secret History of Giants) presents a delicate, lyrical story about independence, trusting one's instincts and abilities, and bats. Written in passionate prose-poetry, it stars Chiro, a bat who is nervous about his first solo venture. Momma reassures him that his "good sense" will help him find his way. "Sense is the song you sing out into the world, and the song the world sings back to you." It's a brilliant description of echolocation and an equally strong metaphor for the logic and perception that human children can use to cut through fear. Long's (Otis and the Tornado) soft lines convey the concept clearly; surrounded by ink-black night, Chiro's song illuminates a cone-shaped area in front of him, which reveals trees, geese, and other surprises in the dark. The only odd note is Chiro himself; Long opts for an anthropomorphized hero with huge ears, fuzzy texturing, and a quizzical look--he's more flying teddy bear than bat. Still, if his cuddly looks and Berk's insights make bats and their swooping flight less mysterious, it's all for the good. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 November

K-Gr 3--Not since Janell Cannon's Stellaluna (Harcourt, 1993) have readers been introduced to such a charming young bat learning to navigate his world. Night closes in and Chiro's mother tells him it's time for him to fly alone; he will succeed if he uses his song, otherwise known as his "good sense," to guide him. Though timid about being on his own, the young bat ventures into the dark unknown and, remembering his mother's words, begins to sing. His song bounces off objects, enabling him to gain confidence as he goes farther from home than he would have ever thought possible. His growing self-assurance, natural curiosity, and newly acquired skill of finding his own food embolden him. The text extends the darkness by appearing bright in the center and fading to darker near the edges, though it is still clear and easy to decipher. Acrylic and graphite illustrations reveal a dark night and a sweet, cuddly bat with a freckled nose and long pointed ears. Children in groups or one-on-one readings will enjoy hearing about this endearing character's adventure.--Maryann H. Owen, Racine Public Library, WI

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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 November

PreS-Gr 2--T. Ryder Smith brings a poet's cadence to his reading of Berk's story (S & S, 2012) about Chiro, a young bat's first solo journey into the night. It imagines his initial fear and building confidence as he discovers his song, or the echo that sings back to him, as he learns to find his way in the dark. Smith captures the young bat's questions and the mother's belief that her son can get his own breakfast this time. Voicing the question, "What is sense?," Smith captures the wonder of a child, followed by the mother's calm release when she "let him go" with an equally profound delivery. As Chiro begins to understand how his song works to show him the way, Smith's voicing becomes bolder. Have the book available so that listeners can see Loren Long's beautiful acrylic-and-graphite illustrations. The author's final note explaining the inspiration for the name Chiro is also narrated. This story works as a wonderful introduction to a unit on echolocation or a study of bats.--Janet Thompson, West Belmont Branch, Chicago Public Library, IL

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