Sunday, August 22, 2010

Bats in the Air, Bats in My Hair

Bats? In my hair? That's right! At the Virginia Festival of the Book held in March, 2010, Grow Up with Books team members had the opportunity to meet a local author of children's books. Martha Hamlett of Lynchburg, Virginia wrote and published Bats in the Air, Bats in My Hair and has visited many schools and bookstores in Virginia to read her story and talk with kids about writing and publishing. Martha has written poems and stories for many years and used an event from her own childhood to create the story Bats in the Air, Bats in My Hair.

Before the school year ended I read this story to a group of second graders that visit my classroom for reading instruction. They loved the story! They were full of gasps and giggles as I read the parts about the nightime visitors. At the end they had many questions for the author, so we wrote them down. Martha Hamlett was gracious to share her answers with us at Grow Up with Books!

Author Martha Hamlett and her book Bats in the Air, Bats in My Hair.

Tysen: Is this a real story? Did this really happen?

Martha Hamlett: Yes. The idea for Bats in the Air, Bats in My Hair was taken from an event that happened to me at my own grandmother's house when I was about 8 years old. About 10 of my cousins and I decided to spend the night at my grandmother's house. She lived in a big, white house that had bedrooms on the second floor. It even came with a winding staircase and creaky steps! The girls stayed in one bedroom, the boys were across the large foyer in another bedroom. During the night some of us girls heard a noise and turned on the light. My cousin Deb was sleeping soundly on another bed. She had long hair that was streaming across the pillow. Well, we immediately saw a bat sitting tangled in her hair! Being girls we ran screaming across the hall to the boys room. Of course, they woke up. Now, 10 kids jumping on one old bed did not end well. The slats fell out, the mattress shifted, and we all ended up on the floor. My grandmother came up a bit upset with us all, put the bat outside, and made us all go back to bed. The girls had a hard time sleeping the rest of the night. We had the covers over our heads most of the time.

Jennifer: The grandma was funny hitting the bats! I liked the grandma!

MH: Thanks, Jennifer! The grandma was supposed to be a character that helps. I remember when I would get scared, especially in the middle of the night, I would always get comforted by my parents or grandparents.

Jacob: I like that you made the story a poem. Do you like to write poems?

MH: I love writing in rhyme. It is one of the hardest ways to write, especially if you are trying to sell your work to publishers. I started out writing poems when I was young.

Jennifer: There were rhyming words!

MH: Yes, the story has a simple rhyme. I rhymed the last words of the sentences.

Jayson: The pictures are cool. They kinda look like cartoons instead of regular book pictures. Did the drawer go to school to learn how to draw like that?

MH: Davey Morgan, the illustrator, majored in Visual Arts at Erksine College in Greenville, South Carolina. We both wanted the drawings to be colorful and grab the reader's attention. We tried to be different from other books on the market.

Jayson: Did you help him with ideas for the pictures or did he make it up by himself?

MH: Davey and I worked together on the pictures. I offered my ideas for each verse. I could see in my mind how I thought each verse should look. I wrote my thoughts out for Davey, and he took it from there. He added his own special touches throughout the book.

And later I read the book to my son Evan. Here is his question for the author:

Evan: The bats were funny! Did the illustrator know to put bats in the pictures on the wall, or was that part of your story?

MH: I agree-the bats were funny! I love the page where a bat named Jeff-E tried to hide from Sally and her grandmother by dressing up like a knight and hiding himself in the castle picture. Actually the illustrator added that to the story. We had the bats doing all kinds of strange things throughout the book. If you look closely, they would be jumping on the bed, trying on clothes, and even trying to brush their hair!

So, if you are looking for a funny story with a batty ending, check out Bats in the Air, Bats in My Hair at Grow Up with Books! This book will be available for rent or purchase on August 29th on our website,!

Connection ideas for Bats...

  • Can you think of another animal that might visit you at night? What would the story be like if instead of a bat it might be an owl or a raccoon?

  • Stories of things that happen to us when we are little are fun to read. Think about something that happened to you when you were younger. Can you write a poem about it?

  • Visit for more information about bats and other creatures of the night.

  • Martha started writing poems when she was young. She said that she wrote Bats... with rhyming words at the end of the sentences. Can you write some sentences about your favorite animal using rhyming words at the end?

We hope you will check out Bats in the Air, Bats in My Hair! And don't forget: Grow Up with Books members can still participate in our Summer Reading program. Reading logs are still being accepted, so be sure to return yours for a $10.00 gift card to Dairy Queen!!!!

Keep on reading!

Julie and the GUWB Team