This award-winning picture book, a clever, original variation on the theme of the ugly duckling, follows the adventures of a lost baby fruit bat and her efforts to fit in. Accidentally dropped by her mother, helpless Stellaluna falls into a nest of bird fledglings, where she is graciously accepted as one of the family — as long as she acts like a bird and doesn't confuse her adoptive siblings. The little bat does her best, but she can't help wanting to fly at night or hang upside down to sleep. The only time poor Stellaluna feels as graceful as a bird is when she's flying.
Then one day, separated from her bird family, Stellaluna is discovered sleeping with her head up (as she's been taught) by a very surprised bat. It calls the other bats to come see this unusual little creature, and a happily awakened Stellaluna is reunited with her mother. When her bird family comes to visit her bat family, the versatile fledgling discovers that being bat-like is just as hard for baby birds as being bird-like was for her. "How can we be so different and feel so much alike?" one asks. "And how can we feel so different and be so much alike?" asks another. "I agree," Stellaluna responds. "But we're friends. And that's a fact."
Cannon's narration successfully combines science and fantasy into a warm, winning story, as do her illustrations, which give the very realistic animals real character that comes from within. Full-page paintings done in colored-pencil and acrylic depict Stellaluna's adventures, while small ink sketches showing her mother's search for her make for reassuring counterpoint on the facing text pages. Two pages of factual information about bats and their world invite interested readers to learn more, and add to the book's usefulness in the classroom.