Thursday, July 5, 2007

Behind the scenes of "Little Lost Bat"

I’d been warned to expect to be awed, but that hadn’t prepared me. As I stood watching the bridge in downtown Austin, Texas, I saw what looked like a few black wisps of smoke float up and drift away. Then, suddenly, a black cloud burst from beneath the bridge and engulfed the sunset-orange sky. Thousands—more, probably millions—of bats had emerged from their roost and were launching their nighttime hunt. In that instant, I was hooked. I had to know more about bats.

One of the things I love about writing my books is they give me an excuse to experience things and to talk to researchers who’ve spent years investigating and discovering. The experience part that led to my writing Little Lost Bat took me first to a zoo that had a breeding colony of bats. I was able to visit with the keeper and get an up-close peek at mother bats nursing their babies. Next, I went along with a wildlife biologist as we hauled a bulky black box into a meadow. As day became night, I caught glimpses of bats swooping through the air overhead. The black box was a special instrument that also allowed me to “listen” to the bats hunting with bursts of sound too high for human ears to hear without assistance. Wow! I felt like I was getting to know the bats now.

Then I talked to bat researcher Barbara French who described her work inside TexasBracken Cave, a nursery cave for millions of Mexican free-tail bats. She said, “Imagine wading through powdery guano (bat droppings) so deep you sink to your knees while all the insects living there scurry around you. And imagine the constant sound of all the mothers’ and their babies’ voices plus all of the echoes reverberating off the cave walls. Then looking up in the shadowy dimness, you can see all of the bats—the dark bodies of the mothers and the pink babies.” I could imagine it! And Little Lost Bat was born.

I always loved reading stories aloud to my son and daughter, taking different voices to bring the characters to life. I wrote Little Lost Bat especially to be read aloud. Even better, I encourage you to invite the children you share the story with to take the little bat’s part and read along with you.

I believe books should transport readers into the story and share special experiences. I hope you enjoy the world you’ll explore and characters you’ll get to know in Little Lost Bat.

Posted by Sandra Markle.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Each year the Animal Behavior Society selects an Outstanding Children's Book that accurately presents animal behavior and behavior ecology in literature for children in grades 3-5.
This book was one of the finalist for the 2007 Award, and it was my personal favorite. I even cried at the end.