It’s not often that an early-to-middle-reader book can charm and educate in one fell swoop, but that is exactly what Allyson Beatrice has accomplished in her tale of the life of Sam the Bat. This reviewer is too old to have been part of that generation of children who are deliciously and horrifyingly in love with bats. Thanks to Ms. Beatrice’s first novel I now count myself among those enthusiasts.

We meet Sam in the safety and loving security of a bat cave in a Southern California desert. He learns all he needs to know of survival from a doting mother and thousands of night flying, moth chomping cousins and friends. But natural disasters occur, even to bats. One evening while diving after that one last moth after his mother and the other bats have returned to the cave, an earthquake moves his world in ways that will change his life forever. The quake seals the cave opening with loosened boulders and rocks and cuts Sam off from the only life he has ever known.

Sam’s mother had told him of a branch of his Mexican Free Tail family that had left the cave many years before. All she could tell Sam was that those bats lived somewhere far away, in the security of the rafters of a bridge. At this point in the story, as Sam begins his search for his long-lost relatives, Allyson Beatrice begins to weave her magic with a cast of the most unlikely friends and foes.

Beatrice has written a book that parents and grandparents will have to wrestle out of the hands of youngsters so that they can read it, too. Sam’s great adventure takes him from California to South America, Europe, Australia and beyond. He meets bats with no tails, bats as big as dogs, and even bats that scurry along the ground. He learns about fear and courage, love and longing, and like the little girl of the Oz story, he learns that your friends can be your greatest strength (and you can, too) and there truly is no place like home.

The Amazing Adventures of Sam the Bat is a book in which the whole family can delight. Settle down, make room in your lap, bring out a globe for good measure, and begin: “At 3:26 am on April 17th, a young Mexican Free Tail bat was born. His name was Sam.”

Sunny Solomon
Bookin’ with Sunny

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