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Bobby the Brown Long-Eared Bat. Image - from website: bobbythebrownlong-earedbat.co.uk.
Bobby the Brown Long-Eared Bat. Image - from website: bobbythebrownlong-earedbat.co.uk.
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Twinkle, twinkle ... Bobby the Brown Long-Eared Bat

Lesley Docksey

17th January 2017

This charming and beautifully illustrated story book will give pleasure to children everywhere, writes Lesley Docksey. It will also open their eyes (and with luck, those of parents and siblings) to the wonderful world of bats, and what we can do to look after them.

Bobby is born in the attic of a farmhouse and his first sortie out into the world does not go well. By mistake he finds himself in the farmhouse kitchen, complete with farmer, wife, dog and cat. Oh dear!

Bats have had a bad press over the years. For far too long they have been associated with blood-sucking creatures of the night, vampires, Count Dracula and the rest.

In reality it is hard to imagine a tiny 'flying mouse' metamorphosing into a tall man with long teeth, evening dress and a scarlet-lined cloak.

That's fevered imagination for you. There are genuine vampire bats but the Common variety only manages a length of 9 cms, and none live in Britain.

Our bats are important and good pointers as to how healthy an area's biodiversity might be - or not. They help control pests because they feed on insects, which is fine until the insect populations fall because of pesticides or habitat loss.

Bats themselves suffer from habitat loss: nowhere to roost and breed, nowhere to feed, the result of development and modern farming practices. This is why they are a protected species and why building regulations take account of them.

Engage and educate

If ever you have been lucky enough to hold a British bat in your hand, you will know how small and delicate they are, far less robust than something like a field mouse. But then, an animal that flies must be lightweight. And fly they do, swooping through the summer evening sky, hunting insects by echo-location.

They also fly into another piece of bad press. They are accused of getting entangled in your hair. It is a very widespread myth, but still one powerful enough to make people frightened of them.

Angela Mills, a committed supporter of the Bat Conservation Trust, thought people needed to be educated about bats, and persuaded to see them as the amazing little creatures they are. So she wrote Bobby the Brown Long-Eared Bat.

It is a tale for children, simply told and great for reading aloud. It has one or two long bat-related words in it that will encourage parents to do some homework before their children demand to be told "What does that mean, Daddy?"

Angela has thoughtfully provided some facts about long-eared bats at the end of the book. So both parents and children are engaged and educated.

If you can't take the heat ...

Bobby is born in the attic of a farmhouse and his first sortie out into the world does not go well. By mistake he finds himself in the farmhouse kitchen, complete with farmer, wife, dog and cat. Oh dear!

Encouraged through the open door by the farmer, he flies out into the evening, only to take refuge in a tree from a hunting owl. But, of course, the bats find him and he completes his adventure learning to fly and swoop with his friends.

The tale is beautifully illustrated by well-known wildlife artist Kate Wyatt. In her capable hands the bats are enchanting and her delicate style makes the friendly bat faces so real. The combination of story and illustrations will surely make children (and parents) want to know more about our bats.

The Trust's President, Chris Packham has written the Foreword, and his enthusiasm for these creatures comes over loud and strong. He'd like us all to support bats, as would Angela. Part of the proceeds of the book will be donated to the Trust to help its conservation work.

If you want to help bats, and a small person's birthday is coming up, then this charming book could be the answer.

 


 

The book: Bobby the Brown Long-eared Bat has its own website on which you can buy the book.

Lesley Docksey is a freelance writer who writes for The Ecologist and other media on the badger cull and other environmental topics, and on political issues for UK and international websites.

 

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