Batty Hattie Virginia Nielsen
Age Range: 8 - 12
Harriet is a sixth-grader who feels abandoned by her mother, a musician who has parked her with a biologist uncle so she can tour Europe. Harriet finds nothing good about her new home in rural California until she sees her uncle feeding an injured bat. Disobeying his orders, she picks up an abandoned baby bat while on a field trip. Harriet hides it for weeks, waking up every two hours to feed it at night; he thrives while sleep deprivation begins to take a toll on Harriet. The bat helps her make friends, but disaster strikes when the terrified creature flies through the classrooms and disrupts the entire school. Harriet finally must make the painful decision to return her pet to the wild, and when she sees the baby reunited with its mother, she begins to understand her own mother better. Although the characters remain superficial, the author’s treatment of Harriet’s difficulties in her new school will strike a chord with children. The wealth of information offered about bats is engagingly presented.