Media & Education
BATS Magazine

Volume 37, Issue 3, 2018

Stellaluna Celebrates 25 Years

Themes of tolerance and acceptance resonate across generations

By Dan Taylor


“In a warm and sultry forest, far, far away, there once lived a mother fruit bat and her new baby … Stellaluna.”

Dan Taylor, BCI Director of Public Lands Program with Janell Cannon.
Courtesy of Dan Taylor/BCI

This year, Janell Cannon’s beloved children’s book celebrates its 25th anniversary. Over the years, Stellaluna has opened the eyes of countless readers to the world of bats. Since it was first published in 1993, Stellaluna has been translated into 30 languages, made into an animated movie and even adapted into a stage play. But, perhaps most importantly, the book’s themes of tolerance and acceptance have resonated with audiences both young and old.

Cannon, an entirely self-taught writer and illustrator, grew up watching the bats fly outside of her childhood home in Minnesota. However, it was after a memorable trip to Thailand that she found the inspiration to create Stellaluna. “I knew that there was plenty of room on the shelf for a new bat story, but I got distracted by other things in life,” Cannon told Publisher’s Weekly.

“For the first time in my life, I was in a place that was culturally very different, I didn’t know the language, and yet I still felt so connected and that I belonged. So, I asked myself the question, ‘How can we be so different, yet feel so much the same?’ and I began thinking about working that theme into a story about overlooking differences in order to find common ground.”

After the release of Stellaluna, Cannon went on to publish six children’s books and travel the world with bat biologists, illustrators and even BCI’s founder, Merlin Tuttle.

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