Home In The Cave

Horn Book Guide-October 2012

Facts about bats drive this story about a baby bat who makes friends with a pack rat. The cartoon-style illustrations are as highly anthropomorphized as the text. Four pages at the back provide information about cave life, rock formations, cave habitats, echolocation, and more.

ForeWord Book Reviews - February/March 2012

All things nocturnal and furry come alive in this unusual story of a baby bat learning about his surroundings.  After a fall from his customary perch, and with Pluribus the rat as his guide, the little bat encounters all of the other critters—many are eyeless insects—that rely on bats for their survival.  The baby bat welcomes his mother’s eventual return from foraging, but he also prizes his newfound independence.  Fascinating scientific tidbits are made palatable and entertaining.  Ages four to nine. (February, p. 77)

School Library Journal - April 2012

PreS-Gr 2—Halfmann reveals factual details about bats through an eventful story line. When Baby Bat's mother goes out to search for food, her baby falls into the messy nest of Pluribus Packrat. With the aid of a flashlight, friendly Pluribus takes the little creature on a tour of the cave, and readers learn not only about cave bats but also about the cave environment, why cave bats are important to it, and how these bats impact other cave-dwelling creatures. Halfmann adeptly defines terms such as "stalactites," "stalagmites," and "guano" in context, and the factual material is nicely integrated into the story. At the end of their explorations, Pluribus returns Baby Bat to his nursery. Bersani's mixed-media artwork, predominately spreads, appears to be a combination of paint and pencil. Shades of brown, gray, and black create a realistic-looking interior. Light emitted from Pluribus's flashlight draws attention to the other critters, while emotions can be seen in the facial expressions of Pluribus and Baby Bat. Four pages of additional information for classroom lessons and activities are included. Children fascinated by bats and who grasp information better through a plotline rather than through straightforward nonfiction should find this an intriguing read. Readers eager for more information can turn to J. Angelique Johnson's Bats (Capstone, 2011) and Cindy Rodriguez's Bats (Rourke, 2010); both of these titles are organized topically and feature color photos.
Lynn Vanca, Freelance Librarian, Akron, OH

Library Media Connection - August 2012

Baby Bat is happy and secure in the bat nursery cave. When Mamma Bat leaves for a night of hunting insects, Baby Bat doesn’t want to practice flying, but he accidentally lets loose and falls into the lumpy nest of Pluribus Packrat. Pluribus takes Baby Bat on an informational tour of the cave where a multitude of cave animals are introduced. It is never clear whether this is a book about caves or bats, and the result is limited new knowledge in both areas. Colored pencil illustrations create realistic cave inhabitants. The back material provides additional instructional information and activities.
- Marion Muller, Library Media Specialist/Consultant, Starr Academy, New London, Wisconsin

Growing Up Wild

“The smelly guano swarmed with thousands of critters—springtails, mites, beetles, flies, crickets, millipedes, centipedes, daddy longlegs, spiders and more. Many snacked on bacteria and fungi growing on the guano. Others snacked on the guano itself, and still others ate the snackers.”

As scientists race to investigate the increasing threats to bats and cave habitats, so should our programming reflect these real, place-based topics in an age-appropriate way to our youngest readers and listeners.

In Home in the Cave, just released this March, Janet Halfmann once again offers accurate natural history and biology while not forgetting her Pre-K to middle elementary audience and maintaining an interesting storyline to keep them engaged.

Follow the baby bat as he explores his cave ecosystem and encounters packrats, rattlesnakes, cave crickets, and more. Halfmann skillfully weaves a story that shows the interconnectedness of cave inhabitants and their ultimate dependency on the bat as the keystone species. Readers vicariously learn through a bat pup about sightless cave-mates, flying among stalactites, and the threat of certain predators that lurk just past this maternal colony exit.

As is so important in environmental education, Halfmann has found a way to deliver complex ecosystem relationships through an entertaining and engaging presentation that greatly increases information-retention in our students.

Home in the Cave adds to Halfmann’s other works including another personal favorite, Little Skink’s Tail.
- Sarah Livesay, EEAI Growing Up Wild/Project Learning Tree Coordinator

Home in the Cave by Janet Halfmann follows Baby Bat through his cave home as he explores the wonders that lie inside.  Other animals and their habits are introduced, as well as information about caves and rock formations.  Kids will learn facts about bats and other cave dwelling critters while they learn about the cave habitat.  The cute illustrations by Shennen Bersani are richly detailed, and kids will enjoy seeing what Baby Bat discovers in the beam of light from Pluribus Packrat's flashlight.

Snacks for Max - May 2013

"Halfmann presents the facts about the ecosystem of a cave as a fun journey for the character, so it isn’t as if your little one is sitting at a desk in the classroom. Your child learns and retains more from the book than he or she might from reading a textbook. Home in the Cave is the difference between assigned reading and getting to go on a field trip."

Katies Little One's Learning Lounge - August 2012

Baby Bat is asked to practice flapping his wings while his mother sets out in search of food for herself on night with all the other adult bats from the cave.  In anticipation of all that the world holds, Baby Bat is fearful to fulfill his mother's request.  However, while flapping ever so slowly, Baby Bat unknowingly takes flight and lands in what could be a sticky mess.  However, in meeting his new friend, Plurbius Packrat, Baby Bat learns about how bats help out other cave-dwelling creatures and in the end, learns a couple of important lesson - despite their reputation, bats play an important role in our lives and that even though it may be scary to head out into the world of unknown, you can always go home at the end of the day to the familiar.

Learning Table Reviews-July 2012

Home in the Cave is a good read-aloud book, but it might be too challenging for young readers to tackle on their own due to the wordiness and complex vocabulary.  The fact that accurate vocabulary is introduced, however, is a plus, because it adds to the educational value of this book beyond the storyline.  The enrichment activities tie in science, reading comprehension, compare and contrast, math, and more.  As with their other books, Arbordale offers free downloadable teacher pages chock full of extra activities to extend  learning beyond the book.

Love 2 Learn - June 2012

Baby Bat learns about the importance of guano to a cave's ecosystem in Janet Halfmann's new book "Home in the Cave." Children learn about bats and other creatures that live in caves through the exploration of Baby Bat and his pack rat friend. As with all Arbordale books, the last pages contain more information and activities related to the story. Don't let the insects and guano deter you from this fun and informative book!

Children's and Teens' Book Connection - June 2012

Before today, I was fairly certain there was nothing that could make bats seem adorable. Janet Halfmann’s new book, Home in the Cave, just proved me wrong.

Though I adore Halfmann’s work, I had reservations about traveling through a book about bats and cave-dwelling critters; even if all of them were depicted so charmingly by Shennen Bersani. But despite beetles and mites, and rattlesnakes and spiders, I found myself drawn to Home in the Cave.Young readers are treated to an ecology lesson that also teaches them about trying new things and becoming more independent. By giving Baby Bat the right motivation (helping others) Pluribus Packrat helped Baby Bat realize what bats mean to the habitat in which they live and the creatures they share it with.

The Book Chook - June 2012

Home in the Cave, written by Janet Halfmann, illustrated by Shennen Bersani and published by Arbordale Publishing (2011), immediately drew me into a secret place, a world that none of us, unless we are the adventurous type, get to see. The illustrations and story come together beautifully; they truly are a match made in heaven!

I loved the descriptive language in the book, such as thousands of other moms looking like a furry blanket and stalagmites poking up from the floor like sandcastles. An added wonderful bonus to this story can be found on pages 30-33. Teachers and parents alike will be delighted to find the information in these pages. Topics such as life in cave zones, rock formation and cave habitats can be found in these sections. As a teacher, I have found children love hearing and learning about creatures and their habitats, and they love to learn new words and show others their new-found skills. The interactive games and activities invite children to participate and develop their understandings in a rich context. The author has done all the hard work to those inevitable curly questions children ask!

Portland Book Review - June 2012

An educational book about cave creatures and growing up, Home in the Cave takes readers on an adventure through darkness. As Baby Bat encounters blind salamanders, white crayfish, and other cave critters, readers are introduced to the intricate connections the creatures have to one another and to their cave home. Bats and bugs, stalactites and stalagmites, sonar and scent trails, are all part of the cave environment. The book also includes four pages of learning activities to promote further discussion.

Tales from the Rushmore Kid - June 2012

What I love about Janet Halfmann's books is that she takes a nonfiction subject and makes it accessible to the youngest of readers.  Home in the Cave (Arbordale Publishing) is a recent project that does just that.

This story of love, friendship and community has such heart and warmth. A must for any young, inquisitive reader.

Book Ideas - May 2012

You'll find four pages of learning activities included at the back of this book, so not only is this a good story but there's also some real educational value here as well. This is aimed at a young audience between the ages of four and nine.

Lori Calabrese - May 2012

In HOME IN THE CAVE by award winning author Janet Halfmann, young readers will enjoy the story of Baby Bat who wants to learn more about his home. One night, Baby Bat practices flying, but when he falls, he's rescued by Pluribus Packrat. From there, they go on an exciting journey that takes young readers through the deepest, darkest corners of a cave. Meet some of the animals that call the cave home and learn how important bats are to the ecosystem.

Young readers will especially enjoy learning that many different animals eat bat poop, technically known as guano. Gross, yes, but an important fact in the habitat and something that will have creative minds reading on

Wrapped in Foil - May 2012

For staunch fans of fiction, Home in the Cave is a way to stretch their wings into stories with an informational slant. Backed by tons of educational materials, it has benefits for fans of nonfiction as well.

Kristi's Book Nook - May 2012

When we think of bats we think of scary little creatures that fly around in the night swooshing down at our heads to frighten us. Instead, I discovered a delightful story about bats and how they contribute to their cave community. Bats are pretty thrifty and each cave dwelling animal depends on them more so than I ever knew or could imagine.

This is a wonderful fact filled story that young readers will keep and enjoy for a long time. Parents and teachers will enjoy learning all about bats and what can be found inside a cave. The back of the book has information and pictures that teach readers about cave crickets, cavefish, stalactites, stalagmites and bat echolocation. Readers can also decide if they feel bats are good or bad.

Beach Bound Books - May 2012

The book is very educational and provides facts about cave dwelling animals as well as teaches new vocabulary to young readers.

Shennen Bersani's illustrations visually engage readers's and enhance learning. Home in the Cave can be used by teachers as a fun learning tool.

Kids Book Review - April 2012

I liked this story because it is about animals and also because it actually teaches you about what bats eat and give their babies to eat. It also explains what the cave dwelling fish and bugs eat, including the blind salamander, spiders, termites, crayfish, millipedes, centipedes, and lots of other creepy crawlers. I enjoyed learning what the babies do when their mothers are hunting for food. My most favorite part is when baby bat and packrat go exploring and they see all the insects and water animals. Then they hug and become best friends. I think you should read it and you should because it helps you learn about bats and it’s so good I would read it a thousand times. That’s how much I liked this book!The illustrations were really good also; it shows the cave from all different views.

Feathered Quill Book Reviews - February 2012

The tale of Baby Bat and life in his cave is a fun, vibrant look at critters whose lives depend on having the bat in their habitat.

Home School Book Review - March 2012

A lot of people are afraid of bats and hate them.  However, these unique animals have some very important functions in the ecosystems in which they live.  Janet Halfmann’s informative text and Shennen Bersani’s eye-catching illustrations combine to give a very sympathetic portrayal of life in the cave.  The “For Creative Minds” section contains information about cave zones and rock formations, a quiz on cave habitats, a bat echolocation hands on activity, and a page comparing and contrasting bats, birds, and humans along with answers to the question, “Are Bats Good or Bad?”    When our boys were younger, we toured several caves where we noticed bats in their natural habitat and attended programs on bat ecology.  This book is a great way to study about these amazing creatures.

Jean Little Library - April 2012

This title will work best for kids who like stories with nonfiction components mixed in and in schools.The fictional components are probably going to put it in a picture book section, where most parents are looking for shorter titles. An additional purchase, primarily for schools.

Books 4 Learning - April 2012

Using the point of view of a child, Home in the Cave creates a narrative framework for youngster to explore the unknown on two levels.  First, he is venturing into and learning about his physical environment in a calm and simple manner.  Second, he is learning a valuable lesson about growing up and conquering fear.  Both of these lessons are beneficial to children.  Next, the book broadens a child’s experience with nature and expands his science vocabulary/background knowledge by fluidly revealing the wonders of the cave habitat.   Also, there are some excellent opportunities to discuss literary elements with examples of similes, hyperbole, and alliteration sprinkled within the text.  Finally, Shennen Bersani does an amazing job with light and color.   he maintains the dark atmosphere while illuminating the creatures and other elements in there (stalactites, stalagmites, nests, watering holes).  This book is recommended for children ages 4-9.

Book Loons - March 2012

This simple story does a good job of presenting bats as beneficial to the world. It is illustrated by Shennen Bersani.

The Creative Minds educational section in the back of the book provides facts, puzzles, and hands on activities that enhance the story. Quizzes are available on the book's home page

Over a Steaming Cup of Tea - April 2012

I wish I had had books like these when I was younger. The way the author weaves scientific facts into a fun story about a baby bat show clearly that she did her research before writing. The dialogue between Baby Bat and Pluribus does at times feel a little stilted, jam-packed as it is with facts, but overall the facts compliment the story, rather than hindering it. The illustrations are soft, yet accurate, educational as well as entertaining! All of Bersani’s traveling to different caves around the U.S. paid off, as is evident in these illustrations! I can imagine any child wanting to read and re-read the story of Baby Bat. - April 2012

Author Janet Halfmann tells the story with careful attention to factual content. She introduces readers to three cave zones, entrance, twilight and dark zone, as well as several animals found in those zones. We also learn about adaptations, especially those associated with animals in the dark zone where light doesn’t exist and vision and protective coloration aren’t required. She draws readers into the story but skillfully introduces factual information.

Halfmann helps guide young readers toward accepting growing up and responsibilities that they, along with the baby bat, will face.  Illustrator Shennen Bersani creates the charm in the form of a loving young bat, not a nasty creature. Using mixed media with colored pencils and crayons she allows us to visually explore the cave, although she doesn’t provide too much. Young eyes will search for details but they will not be distracted by a cluttered cave-scape. Bersani cleverly uses the collecting habits of the packrat to make dark zone critters visible -  Pluribus carries a flashlight to expose cave fish and blind salamanders in bright ovals of light.

While this is an old and familiar story about an animal who isn’t comfortable in its skin and doesn’t learn to appreciate being a bat until after a second animal guides it to a new understanding, the approach is refreshing and charming. Janet Halfmann’s Home In the Cave is a sweet read-aloud story, but it’s also an informative book on both bats and cave habitats and a good resource for launching early science lessons. Recommended: YES

Bless Their Hearts Mom - April 2012

This is an adorable book, as all Janet's are! Kiddo and I had fun talking about how Baby Bat was afraid to leave the cave, like she had been afraid about starting school 2 years ago. She loved finding out about all the different animals in a cave, and how they all depend on one another. She had quite alot of questions, so I was quite happy to have the last 4 pages of of info on cave habitats, rock formations, how bats hear, about bats and cave animals! It helped answer them all! The illustrations are adorable, as they always are with Janet's books. With Earth Day coming up, this would be an excellent book to read to your kids, or for their class! I know boys will definitely find it appealing, but so will inquisitive girls! We highly recommend it!

Mother Daughter Book Reviews - April 2012

I actually learned something about bats myself.  I knew about the benefits of guano but I learned about the variety of other cave-dwelling creatures which rely upon the bats’ dinner scraps as well as the bats’ other – ~ ahem~ – by-products.  At the end of the book, there is also a four-page spread outlining more information about caves, stalagmites and stalactites (I can never remember which one points which way!), cave creatures,  as well as more detailed information about bats.  I really like how Halfmann includes the debate around whether bats are good or bad, helping kids understand how every creature has its own place in our ecosystem.

Aside from the educational value of the book and the beautiful illustrations, the story itself covers important themes such as finding the courage to “take flight” and seeing the value and taking pride in who you are and how you contribute to the wider society as a whole.  Baby Bat teaches us all a lesson in this respect.

My bottom line: I really, really liked this book because it has a strong story and it has educational value.  I would recommend this book (and other Janet Halfmann books) to boys and girls between the ages of 3 and 8.

Baby Brainstorm - March 2012

What I loved about the book was that through a simple story the author was able to introduce children to the science of caves.  New vocabulary such as stalactites and guano are easy to understand through the context of the story and the beautiful pictures.

Eclectic Homeschool Online - March 2012

Home in the Cave tells about different creatures found in caves. The author writes in an informal, conversational style, telling the story of a little bat that makes friends with a packrat. Together they explore the cave where they both live, discovering all sorts of land and water-based creatures. The little bat starts out the story rather timid, but grows bolder as he realizes how bats contribute to the cave's ecology.

Colored illustrations add to the simple story. The animals are portrayed in a very anthropomorphic way, with human-sounding thoughts and dialog which might appeal to young children.

Health, Beauty, Children, & Family - March 2012

Another great educational and entertaining book by Janet Halfmann is Home in the Cave.  I really like all the books I have read to date from Ms. Halfmann who has the ability to take typically perceived non-adorable characters such as snakes and bats and turns them into great stories to teach.  The stories all have a teaching component about the particular subject but it also has an entertaining aspect such as learning why bat shouldn't be afraid to leave his home in the cave.

Baby bat is so comfortable with his mom in the safety of the cave since it's all he has ever known.  He hears the stories told by other baby bats and becomes increasingly frightened at the prospects of ever leaving.  In an attempt to not disappoint his mom, he practices his flying ability and ends up meeting an unexpected partner who will teach him the importance of his existence with the others in the cave.  Baby bat soon understands his role and changes his mind about growing up and leaving the cave.  The story might also appeal to younger children first leaving for school given their fear of leaving their "cave" as well.  I found it entertaining with innocent little baby bat and the inclusion of bits of scientific information.

The back section includes something very familiar with Ms. Halfmann's other stories which is a creative minds extra.  Teachers, parents and those who homeschool will find it full of a wealth of information that surpasses it as only an entertaining story.  From life in a cave to rock formations to bats, the children will most likely enjoy the extra sections at the back.

Reading 2 Know - February 2012

Home in the Cave is the first book we read and quite possibly my favorite. This, despite the fact that I am not fond of the little buggars. (We have had a bat or two inside our home. Two of which we've discovered flying over us in our bed at 2 a.m. Not exactly my idea of a good time or a welcome houseguest!) This one though is by one of our favorite animal authors, Janet Halfmann. In this story, Baby Bat loves his cave home and thinks he never wants to leave it, despite the fact that his mother is telling him he needs to practice flying so that he can go out and hunt for his own food. He makes friends with another cave dweller, a packrat, who shows him around the cave and teaches him how necessary bats are when it comes to sustaining cave life for other animals. This book is informative and interesting.

Heck of a Bunch - February 2012

A book with delightful illustrations, Home in the Cave is a keen story for younger children to learn about bats and caves.  A baby bat doesn't want to leave the comforts of the cave but soon runs across a rat that explores the cave with him, showing why bats are important to other animals and the different animals that dwell in caves.  The baby bat learns that it's important to learn to hunt and leave the cave so it can be dependable to the other cave creatures.  In the "Creative Minds" section at the back of the book you can learn about life in cave zones, rock formations, cave habitats, bat ecolocation, and more.