I can imagine this story originating as a bedtime conversation between a parent and a particularly imaginative child. “So there’s this brave tuba and he meets a sad banana and they join forces with a dancing giant to defeat some bullying beavers…”
Which actually just summed up the plot for you. It’s a cute, whimsical story with an uplifting message. Batty Betty by Kathryn Hast and illustrated by L.M. Phang would make a good selection for young kids heading off to school, who might be facing issues of bullying and self-acceptance for the first time.
The aforementioned tuba named Abel comes across a banana named Eve, possibly not as fresh as she once was. Abel listens to her tearful tale of a pack of mean beavers who mock and exclude anyone they find strange or imperfect, including Eve herself as well as a giant named Batty Betty who dances to the music inside of her and sprinkles confetti no one else can see.
Abel helps his new friends stand up to the nefarious beavers, getting a little bent out of shape in the process, but never wavering in his convictions. “Because bent is never broken, in fact bent is what life is.”
I’m not sure how I feel about the illustrations. The choice of an extremely limited and subdued color palette of yellow-green-brown combined with an un-outlined drawing style is obviously meant to stand out from the more garish colors of typical children’s books. It does lend the book a signature style, but the results can be a little muddy and underwhelming in places.
Aside from that, this is a solid tale that will show kids the importance of inclusion and allowing others to shine in their own particular, often batty ways.
Batty Betty is available from Lulu Books.