Rufus: The Bat Who Loved Colors by Tomi Ungerer

[I received a review copy from the publisher. No other compensation was received.]

Rufus: The Bat Who Loved Colors is a picture book originally published in 1961 by Tomi Ungerer.  Rufus is the definition of a timeless picture book.  Despite it being published 55 years ago, it is still very relevant, poignant, and illuminating.  But above all, it is a wonderful book that is a joy to read aloud.

So let’s meet Rufus, shall we?

Rufus is your pretty standard bat.  He sleeps in the day and wakes up at night.  Except, one night it all changes when he sees a drive-in theater with a movie playing.  The colors dazzle him and add a new layer of life and curiosity to his routine.

From Rufus: The Bat Who Loved Colors. Image Courtesy of Phaidon Press.

He wonders what it would be like to see colors during the day and resolves to stay awake and see for himself. He is definitely not disappointed.  He relishes in the vivid colors and lets them consume and costume him.  He even paints a green star on his belly Sneech style.  (Which, coincidentally enough, Dr. Seuss’ The Sneeches was originally published the same year as Rufus.  Must have been the year for green stars on bellies.)

From Rufus: the Bat Who Loved Colors. Image Courtesy of Phaidon Press.

And then people shoot at poor, colorful, green-star bellied, flying-in-the sun Rufus.  With guns. (yikes.)

Fortunately though, Rufus survives — he’s wounded but don’t worry, he’s going to be just fine.  Because he lands in a garden of tulips that belongs to a butterfly collector, Dr. Tarturo. We should all hope to be so lucky.

He takes Rufus home and bathes and bandages him and gives him time to heal.  They become friends, but the longer Rufus is gone the more his eyes and head aches.  He must return home, but just because he has to go, does not mean that he won’t be back. He and Dr. Tarturo stay friends and enjoy each others’ company.

Rufus: The Bat Who Loved Colors is a perfect book to show adults and children the importance of challenging the same old same old and venturing into the “what ifs” of life to see for themselves.  While the book has a happy and uplifting ending, it does not shy away from some of the potential perils of exploring the new.  And most reassuring — are the themes that despite fearful people who may harm you — there are, undoubtedly and thankfully, very good people in the world who are willing to help. And, of course, that sometimes the hardest things that happen to you can actually lead to a better life.  Which are all vital lessons to learn and be reminded of again and again.

Both my boys love this book.  My eldest is now, and has been, on the look out for some poor injured animal that we can help, and my youngest asks for me to read it over and over again.  He will also take it off the shelf and look through it himself.  He points out things like star and bat, flower and net, and when he sees that Rufus has been harmed, he’ll say “uh oh” and “ouch”  — and then ask for me to read it to him all over again.

This book has so many layers to it, rings so true, is so well written and so elegantly illustrated that it will be as poignant and timely 55 years from now as it was when it was first written.

Recommended Ages 4 to 8. Phaidon Press. Reprint September 2015. 32 pages. ISBN:978-0714870496 Fiction. Hardcover.

Where to Get it:

Author and Illustrator Websites:

More Reviews of this Book:

Where Obtained:  I received a review copy from the publisher. No other compensation was received.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

FTC Disclosures:  Some of the links in the post above are Amazon affiliate links and others are IndieBound affiliate links. If you click on the link and purchase something, I will receive an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. Which goes to fund my family’s picture book habit.  It’s a vicious cycle, but we manage.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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