Happy Halloween!

Books in the Scientist in the Field series look and feel like a picture book (albeit hefty ones at 80 pages). They get shelved with nonfiction picture books. But inside, they’re middle grade material, complete with chapters.

They’re also totally engaging. Every chapter in this book features a different scientist working on some aspect of bat conservation. The photos are wonderful and the text accessible. It’s not a read aloud, but by the time I was finished, I was starting to plan how to build a bat house for my backyard.

And if you enjoy The Bat Scientists, be sure to check out The Case of the Vanishing Little Brown Bats: A Scientific Mystery,  by Sandra Markle, another middle grade read masquerading as a picture book. Its gripping true story will have you cheering for the bats around you.

The Bat Scientists by Mary Kay Carson, photos by Tom Uhlman. Houghton Mifflin, 2013.

This moving autobiography tells the story, in first person present tense, of a boy who stutters but can speak fluently to animals. We live with him through the despair and loneliness of school and then find, with him, the joy of researching jaguars in the wild. We see his passion to protect the jaguar from poachers overcome his disability. “I have a voice now to speak for animals.”

And we get that whole story in 789 carefully-chosen words. This book proves the idea that conciseness gives writing power.

A Boy and a Jaguar, by Alan Rabinowitz, illustrated by CáTia Chien. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: 2014.