Monday, February 4, 2013


I've been reading the California Young Readers Medal Nominees in the library and the one I read last week was Bats in the Library by Brian Lies.  It's a wonderful book and the paintings are beautiful.  In the middle of the story, the young bats settle down for story time, which is illustrated by 2 two-page spreads which contain illustrated references to classic children's literature.  I could name most of the references, there are about 14 or 15. But a couple of them I couldn't figure out, nor could anyone else.  So I decided to do some research.  I found the answers on a blog post from when the book first came out.  The pictures are scanned in there if you'd like to see what I'm talking about.  The ones I didn't get were Drummer Hoff (I don't think I've ever read that book), Treasure Island (I didn't recognize the character) Wind in the Willows (I thought the car was flying and mixed it up with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) and the one with the flying bed.

At first I thought maybe it was Bedknobs and Broomsticks but quickly realized that wasn't correct.  Then I thought maybe it was Little Nemo in Slumberland, which is close but not quite.  The answer is that it is in reference to a comic strip from 1904 called Dream of the Rarebit Fiend by Winsor McCay.  (Winsor McCay is also responsible for Little Nemo in Slumberland so you can see how close I was!)

Where the connection comes in is back in 2011, I backed a project on Kickstarter involving the restoration of a short animated film by Winsor McCay called The Flying House.  The restoration was done by Bill Plympton and the film was colorized and voice and sound effects were added.  Here it is in it's original form.

The story in the film is based on the Dream of the Rarebit Fiend comic strip.  Anyway, all of this kind of lit up my brain last week and I got a little excited.  If you can find the restored version to view, I recommend it, it's delightful!

I was really inspired by these connections so I decided to find all the books that were referenced that I actually have in the library and put them on display with the pictures showing to help the kids make the connections.  It's been fun and they've become interested in these other books. 

Bats at the Library by Brian Lies will go back to regular circulation after we've finished voting for CYRM.

No comments: