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With the Bats: Andrew Lost #14    by J. C. Greenburg & Jan Gerardi order for
With the Bats
by J. C. Greenburg
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2006 (2006)
* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Bats? Did they say Bats? Oh my, looks like Andrew is in a pickle! In the previous episode, Andrew and Judy were downsized by his latest invention, a device for shrinking garbage. Oops! Andrew and Judy were shrunk to bug size, gobbled up by the disposal, dropped off in a dump and picked up by a flying Bat!

Andrew and Judy hold on tightly to the Bat's fur, as mini-computer Thudd rides in Andrew's shirt pocket. The Bat is travelling the night in search of insects. This particular Bat is a mom, who goes back and forth to and from a spooky cave to feed her baby bat (known as a pup). The cave is home to millions of bats who do their night hunting by echolocation - that is, they don't use their eyes to locate food, they emit a sound too high for humans to hear. The bat sends out a sound, which bounces off of the bug, and like an echo, the sound bounces back to the bat's ears. Neat!

Thudd tells his best friend Andrew and cousin Judy that one bat eats approximately 'three thousand bugs every night'! When it flies into the cave to feed its pup, it hangs upside down as the pup crawls onto its mom and feeds on bat milk. Each baby bat has a different smell, and that is how the mother bat locates her youngster. Hanging upside down is important to the Bat as that is the method used for taking flight again.

Andrew and Judy's in-cave adventure is preceded by an encounter with another hunter in the night - a great-horned owl swoops down on the Bat. But the Bat outmaneuvers the owl, lands on a tree trunk, folds up small and crawls into a hole. Phew! safe for now, as the owl gives up and flies away. Next stop is the cave, where Andrew and Judy face large worms, huge beetles, centipedes which glow in the dark, giant cave cockroaches, and 'blind cave salamanders'. To protect themselves, Thudd suggests his friends use an exoskeleton (shell shed by the cave dwellers as they grow).

Greenburg packs her story with great facts about bats and their habitat, as well as the many other forms of life living in caves. One interesting fact is that stalactites form on the roof of the cave, and stalagmites form on the cave floor. Jan Gerardi's illustrations are superb, with up-close images of the owl, a vampire bat, and the growth inside the cave, along with a labelling of a bat's wing and its parts. Watch for the next installment, Andrew Lost: In the Jungle.

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