Isn’t there something just wonderful about passions, a favourite animal, a craft activity, a place or maybe a sport? Those passions and interests are part of what make us us, gives us things to talk about, and ways of engaging not only with other people, but also the world around us. Amara and the Bats written and illustrated by Emma Reynolds and published by Simon and Schuster is a book that exemplifies what can be achieved with this kind of love. Welcome to my stop on the batty blog tour, where I’ll be sharing my review of Amara, along with some brilliant bat saving tips from Emma herself!
“Amara really loves bats” the first line of this story introduces us to Amara and her passion. The story follows Amara as she finds a bat trapped in the attic of her house when she was young. With the help of the local wildlife group, they rescued and released the bat back into the wild, and thus sparks Amara’s fascination and love of all things bat! As Amara grows and thinks about these amazing animals more, she comes to realise that they’re suffering as a result of human’s actions and strives to save the bats. And this picture book explores how Amara is empowered to use her knowledge and enthusiasm to make small changes in her environment to finally, bring back the bats!
It is clear from the start that this is a real passion project for author/illustrator Emma Reynolds. Her love of bats and the environment shines through every single page of this book and shows exactly how passion can light a person up and enable them to make big changes. A book that seeks to entertain, while empowering is a really powerful thing.
I’ve said many times now, that during lockdown, we’ve most definitely developed a better love and connection with nature, when that was the only thing we could do. For many of us, myself included, the day to day routing of dragging to and from work, heads stuck in technology, and getting little time to really enjoy our surroundings, this was an opportunity to really embrace and appreciate nature again. And for families with small children to entertain it’s also been a saviour. But with this has come a sad realisation of the damage we have also caused through littering, industrialisation and general human interference. This beautiful non-fiction/fiction crossover picture book seeks to address this.
Emma has a wonderful writing style here, it’s clear and simple yet comprehensive and bursting with the enthusiasm and love she clearly has for nature and bats of course. What better way to energise people, than with your own passion filled writing told through the eyes of a strong, yet adorable, female character. It’s really so lovely, and for someone like me, who doesn’t know a whole lot about bats, it was a real education too! And that is why I completely adore crossover fiction/non-fiction! They not only tick many boxes in terms of reading and education, but they’re just hugely entertaining. You can’t be bored with an interesting story and amazing facts combined!
I was so happy to see Amara and the Bats come to life from Emma’s original idea illustration. The artwork in this book is just beautiful, eye candy for the soul and again, a reflection of the passion injected into this book. There are a whole host of diverse characters in the artwork, making it feel fully inclusive and representative. Emma plays around with colour, scale, angles, and more technical illustration for the factual pages, that there’s no opportunity to be bored, all while retaining her wonderful original style of artwork. Amara is the most gorgeous main character, strong and proud and engaging, who’s love of bats flies off the page! Do check out those end pages too!! Detailed, yet simple line illustrations of bat breed faces, it’s brilliantly executed with care and attention. But Emma’s use of colour in this book is what really stood out to me, every page with a different tone and atmosphere.
Amara and the Bats is such an important story aimed at empowering young children to connect with their environment, and demonstrating beautifully, through a combination of storytelling, fact-finding and stunning illustration, that they have the ability to make a BIG difference through small changes. But it also teaches patience, and that re-wilding, in particular, can be a waiting game. This story will make kids smile, help them learn, and maybe, most importantly of all, encourage them to act!
And if you and a child you know may want to act for the bats here’s the fantastic Emma with some suggestions of how!
—‘Top Tips for Supporting your local bat’
– There are over 1,400 different species of bats all over the world, and they all have their own needs! So step one, is to research what bats you have living near you. Here are some good links to start you on your bat journey:- For UK folks, check out Bat Conservation Trust– Ireland – Bat Conservation Ireland– For US folks, check out Bat Conservation International and Merlin Tuttle Bat ConservationFor Australians, see Australasian Bat Society and the links for other international bat groups there.
– Using UK bats as an example, the next thing you can do after familiarising yourself with your local bat, is join a bat group! There are more than 80 bat groups in the UK, and it’s a great way to get involved, meet fellow bat fans, go on bat walks with experts and see and hear bats in the wild.Here is a list of groups by region on the Bat Conservation Trust’s website.
– Make your garden or community area a bat friendly space – avoid using pesticides, and plant flowers and plants that attract insects, so there will be more food for bats to eat, plus this supports bees in the day time! (Don’t worry, bats don’t eat bees as they are active at different times of day!) If you have a cat, keep them inside around sunset especially in summer months when baby bat pups are out and about.
– Joining a bat charity is a great way to support bats as they not only help rescue bats, but they campaign to protect them and make sure that government legislation keeps them protected. Bat Conservation Trust also run workshops, accessible surveys that anyone can take part in that helps us learn more about bats, and fun activities throughout the year.
– Speaking of surveys, you can take part in the BCT sunset survey from home! Simply spend an hour looking for bats and other animals at sunset, and enter this super helpful data online afterwards. More info here.
This is called ‘citizen science’, pretty cool huh? 😀
Huge thanks to Emma for those great tips.
Amara and the Bats is out now and available from all good libraries and bookshops. You can support my blog and your local bookshop at the same time by ordering a copy through my Bookshop.org affiliate link. (thank you).
Thank you to the publisher for sending me this copy of Amara and the Bats for my honest thoughts, and thank you for reading this very batty Book Monster review!