Saturday, February 25, 2017

Science Comics: Bats: Learning to Fly

Bats: Learning to Fly is the latest volume in First Second's Science Comics series, and I learned so much from it. For instance, I learned about how echolocation works, about the many types of bats all over the world, how bats fly, and how bats are more like primates than they are rodents (even though they get likened to flying mice all of the time). I also learned why some of them have such striking faces. I'd tell you about all of this info, but you should really read the book and find out.

Not only is this book full of great information, it is conveyed in an interesting way through a brisk and enjoyable tale of a little brown bat who gets smacked down by a scared human and ends up being cared for by Rebecca, a veterinarian who specializes in helping bats. In her office, the bat gets to know many of the fellow bats who are also being cared for, and they are a motley bunch.

Like its companions in the Science Comics series, this book also goes beyond its main narrative to teach an important aspect of science. The dinosaurs book looked at how scientific knowledge evolved over time, the coral reefs book at how scientists are also stewards of the Earth, and the volcanoes one at how scientists need to consider alternative viewpoints to make breakthroughs. In Bats, the alternative lesson is a dual one: namely not to allow preconceived notions cloud one's judgment (like the Little Brown Bat does about fellow bat-patients) and also that doing science also means taking part and getting involved (in this case when Sarah volunteers her time at a veterinarian's office).

This book's creator Falynn Koch is a graduate of SCAD and this is her graphic novel debut (as far as I can tell). I was very impressed with her storytelling and how much she was able to capture with her characters' features and expressions. This book is packed with so much information, and her ability to combine it with a fun, vivid story is noteworthy.

All of the reviews I have read of this book have been ringing. Johanna Draper Carlson found many positives in the book and stated that she "was impressed by how well Koch gave the various bats expression and personality while keeping them looking realistic." Gwen and Paul at the Comics Alternative wrote that it "will delight readers, while encouraging them to appreciate how they can play a role in scientific study." Jody Kopple called it "an excellent addition to school and classroom libraries" in her starred review for the School Library Journal.

Bats: Learning to Fly was published by First Second, and they have a preview and much more available here.

A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

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