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Summary

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

The Bat Poet is about the importance of valuing one's individuality while living in a larger society. The bat, like anyone who lives in a world with other people, must learn to overcome the desire to be like everyone else. He comes to realize that being different can really be fun and interesting. Jarrell's model is the poet, in this case a bat, who is constantly at odds with his fellow bats and other animals. When the bat learns to trust his own instincts rather than follow the example of the other bats, he takes an important step in discovering who he really is.

Their single shadow, printed on the moon/ Or fluttering across the stars,/ Whirls on all night.
Jarrell's story also introduces the reader to the realm of poetic observation. Although the bat does not understand the technical aspects of writing, he learns that by observing he can write as well as anyone, including the mockingbird, long praised for its song. Jarrell uses his own knowledge of poetry to help the reader explore the poetic nature of his own observational powers.