Kid Lit Dish

Kim's Magical Journey Into the World of Children's Picture Books

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Stellaluna

on October 26, 2012

I am in revision and editing purgatory this week.  As most of you know, it is hard!  Much harder than the actual writing.  But I have some amazing and incredibly helpful feedback from a professional (and highly-regarded) kidlit expert on two of my manuscripts so my focus has been to polish those up and start getting them submitted in November.  But I couldn’t miss Perfect Picture Book Friday, since I missed it last week for our regional SCBWI conference, which was good.  I hope to update about it later!

Anyhoo, back to PPBF… I’m surprised this little gem hasn’t been reviewed before– it’s a wonderful award-winning tale full of meaningful (but not overt, in-your-face) messages… and the illustrations are beautiful and packed with emotion.  5– no, 6!– stars on a 5-star scale!

Stellaluna

Written and Illustrated by: Janell Cannon
Sandpiper, 1993

Awards/Recognition:
American Booksellers Book of the Year, 1994; ABBY Award; California Young Reader Medal; Keystone to Reading Book Award; Reading Rainbow Feature Book; Southern California Council on Literature for Young People Award

Themes/Topics:  Acceptance, family and friendship, learning to adapt.

Suitable for:  4 and up, but in reading the reviews on Amazon, even toddlers love this book because of the pictures and the universal message of family and friendship bonds.

Opening Lines:
In a warm and sultry forest far, far away, there once lived a mother fruit bat and her new baby.

Oh, how Mother Bat loved her soft, tiny baby.  “I’ll name you Stellaluna,” she crooned.

Each night, Mother Bat would carry Stellaluna clutched to her breast as she flew out to search for food.

Brief Synopsis:  (From Kirkus)— Attacked by an owl, Stellaluna (a fruit bat) is separated from her mother and taken in by a bird and her nestlings. Dutifully, she tries to accommodate–she eats insects, hangs head up, and sleeps at night, as Mama Bird says she must–but once Stellaluna learns to fly, it’s a huge relief when her own mother finds her and explains that the behavior that comes naturally is appropriate to her species. With a warm, nicely honed narration, Cannon strikes just the right balance between accurate portrayal of the bats and the fantasy that dramatizes their characteristics. Her illustrations, in luminous acrylics and color pencils, are exquisite. The appealingly furry, wide-eyed, fawn-colored bats have both scientific precision and real character; they’re displayed against intense skies or the soft browns and greens of the woodland in spare, beautifully constructed (occasionally even humorous) compositions. Delightful and informative but never didactic: a splendid debut.

Links to Resources:
There is much information to be found on fruit bats!  Here are just a few resources, but they can enhance your child’s learning about these adorable (did I just say that about bats?) little creatures.

http://www.about-bats.com/fruit-bats.html

http://www.batrescue.org/batfacts/batfacts.html

http://www.ehow.com/about_5415239_fruit-bat.html

Why I Like This Book:
Oh my goodness, what’s not to like?  First of all, this book was apparently Janell Canon’s debut picture book, which is incredible considering its strength.  (I’m not saying debuts can’t be strong, but they don’t usually become classics, and this one is definitely a classic– if not a classic-in-the-making!)

And at the end of the book, there are two pages of fun facts on fruit bats.

And how can you not fall in love with this little fruit bat? She looks up at the mama bird with these big (albeit glassy) and almost tearful eyes… her face is like a tiny chihuahua,  and her little feet hang so adorably off those tree limbs!  She is the heart of the story, and her plight and journey from being orphaned (or so it seems) to adapting to her new home with similar (winged) yet very different creatures is a tale of courage, determination, and strength of character.  It is a gorgeous tale and one that children can not only enjoy immensely, but learn from.  Again, what’s not to like?

PPBF is a fantastic resource brought to the world by author Susanna Leonard Hill— if you’re struggling with finding truly outstanding picture books for your children, your classroom, your library, etc., then don’t miss this wonderful and comprehensive listing with links to reviews by picture book lovers the world over.  You won’t be disappointed!

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10 responses to “Perfect Picture Book Friday: Stellaluna

  1. Joanna says:

    I cannot believe that this has not already been reviewed. I am so glad you have added Stellaluna, as it is one of my all time favorite picture books! I also have a soft spot for bats!

  2. I love Stellaluna, Kim! One of my favorites 🙂 And I actually did think Stacy had reviewed it way back in the beginning, but it doesn’t hurt to have this one up more than once! Thanks for your take on this wonderful book, and for the great resources!!! Good luck with your revisions 🙂

  3. I love love LOVE Stellaluna! Thanks for this lovely review. And, as Susanna said, good luck with the revisions.

  4. Kim, thank you so much for suggesting this. I don’t know why but I have always shied away from this book. I will make sure to read it now.

  5. Laura Renauld says:

    Stellaluna is a beautiful book. As are Cannon’s other books. Have you seen Verdi?

  6. I shivered at first when I saw this book,but then fell in love with your review of it. (I am not a lover of bats) Love the name and it is certainly carries a great message. The illustrations are exquisite.

  7. Stellaluna is a lovely story. Like you, I appreciate how it gently delivers its message of acceptance and love,

    sandi

  8. I really like Stellaluna! It was a great book and it is a great pick for PPBF! The cover is magnificent and I thought the inside illustrations were great too 🙂

  9. That’s a classic for sure. Thanks for making sure it’s on the list. Good luck with your editing and revisions. Mine mostly lead to rewrites…It’s purgatory for sure but heaven when it’s done.

  10. What a beautiful choice. Such a lovely message of love and acceptance. Great read for kids.

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Welcome to Design of the Picture Book! I'm Carter Higgins, and I'm a writer and librarian for kids. I spent a spectacular stint as the Children's Book Editor at <a href="http://www.designmom.com/">Design Mom</a> which I loved! You can find my column <a href="http://www.designmom.com/category/childrens-lit/">here</a>.<br /> I'm a K-6 librarian, a former-ish graphic designer, an SCBWI member, and a huge fan of words and pictures.<br /> Represented by <a href="http://www.rpcontent.com/">Rubin Pfeffer of Rubin Pfeffer Content, LLC</a>.

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