Stellaluna Children's Book Critique, Lesson Plans and Activities for Educators
Cannon, Janell. Stellaluna. Ill. Janell Cannon. Olando: Hardcourt Brace & Company, 1993.
Category: animal fantasy
Approimate age group: early elementary - suitable for younger children
Summary, Critique & Analysis followed by Activities:
This is an endearing story about Stellaluna, a silver fruit bat baby who gets separated from her mother during an owl attack, and falls head first into a nest of baby birds.
She did everything she could to fit into this peculiar situation. "She ate bugs without making faces. She slept in the nest at night. And she didn't hang by her feet. Stellaluna behaved as a good bird should."
Stellaluna is finally discovered by a bat that finds her sleeping wrong end up. She meets other fruit bats and is soon after reunited with her mother, who teaches a most eager Stellaluna proper bat ways. In the end, she discovers that birds are just as clumsy at being bats as bats are at being birds.
Certainly the subject of Stellaluna being separated from her mother can be a bit difficult for some children, however on each page Cannon has an illustrated conjunctive story that pleasantly unfolds in the margins. Stellaluna's mother is alive and well, and searches for her baby bat. In doing so, Cannon offers educators the perfect opportunity to discuss predictions, and foreshadowing, as well as the importance of collecting and processing inferences as they read.
Cannon's luminous full-page illustrations, bordered in white, are vivid and descriptive. The saturated backgrounds and sharply focused foreground give these illustrations an almost three-dimensional look. The images are large and clear, making this a great book for reading out loud.
In fact the illustrations are so well done, and follow the story so well, that this would make a great book for pretend reading (for younger children who can't read yet).
The facing pages of text are bordered in gray, and include an added surprise. Small pen and ink drawings tell of another story in the sidelines: Stellaluna's mother is alive and searching to find her baby.
The print in this book is large and well spaced. The words are simple and easy to understand. Two pages of "BAT NOTES" follow the story, giving interesting, easy to understand information about bats. Cannon definitely knows her bats.
Cannon has done an excellent job in presenting a story that not only has a taut plot line and incredible illustrations but one that gives a lasting knowledge of bats and birds through memorable, lovable, easy to relate to characters. Stellaluna captures the imagination. Her story also teaches wonderful lessons about family, family units, fitting in, diversity, and friendships.
- Have the children talk about their favorite parts of the story and the differences between birds and bats.
- Have them interpret the pen-and-ink picture story of Stellaluna's mother searching for her baby.
- Read other books, like Shadows of the Night: The Hidden World of the Little Brown Bat and Bat Book and See Through Model.
- Watch "Tree Animals video".
- Visit a living museum!
- Build a Bat house model. See instructions link below. You'll want to build a version out of cardboard, cereal boxes, construction paper, or other items that can be easily acquired and used.
- Create a Venn diagram with your students. I would recommend making one Venn diagram before and one after to see what new things they learned; this not only gives extra Venn diagram practice, but will keep them focused on retaining facts as they read or are read to.
Bats are explored in THIS EPISODE of Reading Rainbow, showing the different kinds of bats and their natural habitats. This is a great episode to watch with your class, or to view on your own for gathering lesson plans and classroom activities on the subjects of Stellaluna, Bats, or night creatures. In it, Anne Jackson reads Stellaluna.
Word Search Download for printable version
Stellaluna Venn Diagram
You may also find the following items useful in your lesson planning: