Series Feature: Norman Space Bat

Norman the bat leads a pretty ordinary life. He attends school, and he loves to play his favorite game: sonar tag. One fateful day, Norman accidentally ventures too far while playing sonar tag and is caught by a mysterious entity called the VIPD. He is whisked away to VIPD headquarters where he and the other bats he meets have been emblazoned with a red T on their chests. Escaping from the nefarious VIPD is just the beginning of Norman’s adventure, though; ultimately, he will find himself traveling farther than he ever expected to protect the world he loves.

Written for an emerging middle-grade audience, this book is separated into short chapters and dominated by illustrations. A fast-paced narrative structure means that Norman is constantly finding himself in challenging situations moments after overcoming a previous threat. While this can seem jarring and disconnected at times, fledgling readers will appreciate the focus on action rather than deep exploration of character or plot.

Friendly, colorful illustrations are the featured element of this story, depicting Norman and his friends in comical and unexpected situations. Norman is able to do many human-like things, including tying on a blindfold and mashing buttons in a spaceship to destroy asteroids. His antics and approachable demeanor endear readers to him throughout the story.

Young children transitioning from early readers to chapter books will appreciate the comfortable design of this story. The narrative is more complex than books for brand-new readers, but the short sentences and ample visuals allow for easy comprehension of the book. Readers will feel accomplished with every page they conquer in this first installment of a series about a friendly bat and the comical situations in which he finds himself.

Norman the Space Bat and his best buddy Plop are back! After thwarting the many nefarious efforts of the VIPD in book one, Norman and Plop are determined to discover what other dastardly plans the VIPD have up their sleeves. But the Overwatchers forbid Norman and Plop from venturing into VPID territory…which naturally means the two companions must take matters into their own hands. Together, Norman and Plop execute their mission, only to be left wondering how to set the world to rights again when things do not go exactly as planned. This charming continuation of the Norman Space Bat series picks up soon after the initial book ends. The first several pages remind readers who the characters are and what happened before, making the transition into this second story as smooth as possible no matter how much time has passed between readings. Young readers will appreciate the design of this book as it falls somewhere between a picture book and a graphic novel: most pages contain a single illustration as in a picture book, but the story is long and complex as in a graphic novel. Colorful, cartoon-like illustrations are sure to connect with readers, especially as they provide additional context for the narrative itself. The text is composed of longer, energetically punctuated sentences that occasionally break the fourth wall and invite readers into the book. Filled with humor in both the text and illustrations, this book is a delight for readers who enjoy silly, unexpected stories that include a variety of unusual components. Just as this book closely follows book one, it leads immediately into book three, so readers will want to be prepared to read these short novels as close together as they can. This is a comic and visually engaging story for elementary school-aged readers.

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