“Nightsong,” by Ari Berk, illustrated by Loren Long; Simon & Schuster, $17.99, 48 pages, ages 4-6.
Chiro the bat is about to fly outside the family cave for the first time, and he unsure whether he is ready to flap away without his mother. How will he find his way in the dark night? Mother bat offers Chiro sage advice before releasing him into the air. “Sense is the song you sing out into the world, and the world sings back to you. Sing, and the world will answer. That is how you’ll see.” These magical, slightly spooky worlds are familiar territory for Ari Berk, author of middle-years books “The Secret History of Hobgoblins” and “The Runes of Elfland”. A moody nocturnal landscape is punctuated by bursts of saturated color and light – a double-page spread of Chiro soaring over the ocean is especially lovely. These and the inky black backgrounds take shape under the steady hand of award-winning illustrator Loren Long. A quick explanation of the inspiration for the flying mammal’s name rounds out this tale.