Stellaluna (Janell Cannon)


Summer Reading Day 77: Hey everyone! Today we read Stellaluna by Janell Cannon, the story of a little fruit bat who gets separated from her mother and is raised by birds. She does her best to pretend to be like the birds, even though she feels different. One day, she is discovered by the other bats and reunited with her mother, and she finally feels as though she belongs – but can she share her new life with her adopted bird siblings?

This book has a very poignant message that so many kids can identify to: sometimes you only feel out of place because you haven’t found where you belong yet. And while Stellaluna’s adoptive bird mother seems a little cruel, her love and bond with her siblings, even when they realize how different they are, is a great analogy for how family will always love you, no matter how different you are. 

One complaint: this book was definitely too long for this Baby Bookworm. JJ rarely gets bored with books, and we were only about halfway through before she was ready to go do something else. However, with such a beautiful story and adorably realistic illustrations that may make you reconsider your fear of bats, this book would be fantastic for older readers. 

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2 thoughts on “Stellaluna (Janell Cannon)

  1. Jen M. says:

    “family will always love you, no matter how different you are.”

    As an adoptive parent, I don’t feel this is the message at all. This book has a terrible underlying message of unacceptance and conformity. Stellaluna isn’t loved by her bird family… in fact, she reunites with her bat family at the end of the book. Maybe the message is “you can only fit in among your own kind.” What a terrible idea.

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    • thebabybookworm says:

      Perhaps you are right, and you are of course entitled to interpret the book howsoever you will. But let me tell you a story:
      I have a cousin who I grew up with; she’s more like a sister to me than anything. She was adopted from Colombia as a baby and raised in a large Irish/Italian family in New Jersey. She grew up speaking English with a Jersey accent, participating in Irish and Italian family customs and celebrations, and overall grew to become a lovely, generous, amazing woman and one of the best people I know. She is unequivocally FAMILY to me.
      However, all her life, she knew that she was different. Besides the fact that our family loved and adored her and never saw her as anything but ours, there was no getting past that she was of South American ancestry and looked nothing like the rest of her family. She was also understandably curious about her past, her biological family, the country and culture she had been born into.
      So about fifteen years ago, she started learning more about Colombia, taught herself Spanish, and ultimately decided to track down her birth family. I am happy to say that she did, and they were overjoyed to find her again. Her bio-mom had always regretted placing her for adoption, and her brothers had hoped their entire lives that they might someday find her again. And when they all came together, though they had been raised in two entirely different cultures, with two entirely different languages, they were FAMILY as well.
      So let me ask you: should she be forced to pick one identity over the other? Does she have to be American OR Colombian, and nothing in between? Now that she has her birth family back in her life, is she obligated to give up her adoptive family? Or vice versa?
      It is my and others’ opinion that Stellaluna is a story about identity and family. While I admitted that Stellaluna’s adoptive mother was a cold character, her bird siblings were nothing but loving and kind. They are the siblings she has been raised with, and her family. The bats, who also love her and can provide her context for her biological identity, are also her family. And instead of letting their differences drive each other or Stellaluna apart, it is their love for Stellaluna and hers for them that brings them together to make an even larger family circle. So, while you may disagree with my interpretation of the story, I still feel like this is a book that speaks to children who have been adopted and sends them the message that neither nature nor nurture is what makes someone family; LOVE is.

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