The Secret Life of the Little Brown Bat
THE STORY BEHIND THE BOOK
Guilty: I love bats! My first book about them was VAMPIRE BATS (1982). Second was BATMAN: EXPLORING THE WORLD OF BATS (1991)--about biologist Merlin Tuttle--next was BATS! STRANGE AND WONDERFUL (2000). And in 2018, THE SECRET LIFE OF THE LITTLE BROWN BAT. I continue to be curious about them, have a bat house hanging on an outside wall of my house, and sometimes go outdoors on a summer evening, waiting for "bat time," when bats appear and start patrolling for moths and other insects.
So it was inevitable, in my "secret life" series, that I would convince editors that there should be one about the most widespread species of bat in North America. In these narrative nonfiction books I aim to give the main "character" a name based on its scientific name. For this title I chose Otis because of the Latin name for the whole group called mouse-eared bats. The Latin word is Myotis (meaning "mouse eared") so the bat was Otis--and that meant the character had to be male.
There are wonderful opportunities for word play in these books. For example: "Near the pond, Otis flies higher, over a meadow. There he seems to dance in the air. With his amazingly flexible wings, Otis zigs and zags, flutters and dives, hovers and swoops, dips and swerves. Then he makes a quick turn and does it all again. And again!
The text of the next spread begins: "Otis is not playing. He is hunting..."
And the text continues, explaining the amazing echolocation system of bats.
My artistic partner was Kate Garchinsky, who did such extraordinary work in THE SECRET LIFE OF THE RED FOX. Reviews praise her contributions. And our teamwork continues, as she completes work on THE SECRET LIFE OF THE SKUNK. I know she will be pleased with one more title in the series, because the animal subject will let her escape the dark nighttime worlds of bats and skunks to illustrate THE SECRET LIFE OF THE SLOTH.