Younger children with a bat phobia learn to get over it and love the flying mice when they read Janell Cannon's classic picture book, Stellaluna. Older readers are enthralled when they meet Shade, the rebellious and nonconformist bat in Kenneth Oppel's trilogy, starting with Silverwing.
Runt. That's what the other young Silverwings call Shade, and he hates the name, even though it's true he's a very small bat. To prove his mettle, Shade attempts to stay up to see the sun rise, something forbidden to bats for millions of years. Looking at the sun is supposed to blind you, burn your eyeballs right out of your head, and turn you to dust. Before the sun rises, the reckless young bat is spotted by an owl, but Shade's mother rescues him before he can be snagged. The owls, the bat colony's most fearsome enemies, demand the boy as a sacrifice for breaking the law. Thwarted by the chief bat elder from taking Shade, the owls retaliate by burning down Tree Haven where the bat colony lives, sending them fleeing on their migration south to Hibernaculum.
Shade's journey is a perilous and circuitous one when he becomes separated from the rest of the colony. He teams up with Marina, a young Brightwing bat, considered an outcast by her clan since her forearm was banded by humans. Attempting to find their way south, the two young bats are attacked by an owl, but are rescued by Goth, a huge, meat-eating bat who is a prince of the royal family, Vampyrum Spectrum, and his sidekick Throbb. At first, Shade is grateful to Goth, until he realizes that Goth will eat any meat, including bats. Shade and Marina must now find a way to escape from him.
Reviewed by JF.
THEMES: ADVENTURE & ADVENTURERS. ANIMALS. FANTASY.
Simon & Schuster Children, 1997
Suggested Ages: 9 and Up