Another Column at MyShelf.Com

Babe To Teens, Past
A Youth Column

Click here for More Children, Tweener
& Teen Most Books @ Amazon

Merry Myrrh the Christmas Bat
An Interview with the author, Regan W.H. Macaulay


Leslie C. Halpern: For what ages is Merry Myrrh, The Christmas Bat intended, and what did you do to address the specific needs of this age group?

Regan W.H. Macaulay: “My publisher, Guardian Angel Publishing, tends to categorize picture books like Merry Myrrh as intended for ages 4-7. Personally I think there’s a little bit of wiggle room on both ends, particularly for very young children who love to listen to bedtime stories and pore over the artwork. Christmas is a special time for many people of all ages, but there’s much about it that’s extra special for the very young. I hope I am showing these youngsters the wonder of Christmas through the eyes of a very young and innocent animal, full of awe at the beauty that surrounds him, which is meant to commemorate the holiday.”


Leslie C. Halpern: What is the message you hope readers get from the book?

Regan: “First, I hope the joy Myrrh feels that comes from Christmas reflects how the children who read/listen to the story feel, too. I also hope they see that the things that touch our hearts can touch others as well—including those who are very different from us. And perhaps they’ll look at bats differently—not just as scary little creatures reserved strictly for holidays such as Halloween. The compassion the farm family shows Myrrh, rather than fear, is something important to teach children, I think.


Leslie C. Halpern: A bat seems like an unusual topic for a Christmas book. Where did you get the idea?

Regan: It’s a story I’ve been toying with since high school, actually. When I lived in a particularly lovely older house in Oshawa (Ontario) with my mom and my step-dad, occasionally a Little Brown bat would find its way inside from somewhere up in the mostly inaccessible attic. They would be rather discombobulated, of course, and it got me wondering what it would be like for a bat to get caught up in a Christmas tree, with all its lights and ornaments. Likely very confusing and overwhelming, despite also being a beautiful sight. And when I was a child, I would often peer right into our Christmas trees over the years, trying to picture what it would be like to be very small and seeing it from the inside out. Merry Myrrh sort of unspooled from there.


Leslie C. Halpern: How did you find an artist to illustrate your work?


Regan: I’ve worked with Alex Zgud on two of my other picture books—Beverlee Beaz the Brown Burmese and Sloth the Lazy Dragon (this one’s also published by Guardian Angel Publishing). I met her when we both worked for a couple of years in a pet shop called Pet Cuisine and Accessories, where I learned she had been an OCAD student (Ontario College of Art and Design), and it was her ambition to become a tattoo artist, which she has accomplished. I saw some of her artwork and instantly wanted to work with her. I asked her if she’d collaborate with me on my first picture book, Beverlee, and she agreed and created sample artwork for me to submit along with the manuscript to publishers. She’s actually getting very busy with her work, so I’m glad she was able to find the time to finish Merry Myrrh with me.


Leslie C. Halpern: How does this book compare to your other children’s books?

Regan: As with all of my other books, the main characters are animals. But this is the first book I’ve written with a holiday theme.


Leslie C. Halpern: What else would you like people to know about this book?

Regan: There’s a short note on the title page of Merry Myrrh that mentions the troubles Little Brown (and other) bats are facing with respect to White Nose disease. I hope this encourages parents and children to learn more about how they can help bats like Myrrh, so they don’t become yet another extinct species. Bats are critical to our ecology—without them and similar creatures, insect populations would grow out of control. This is not the theme of the story, but I do hope that the positive light in which Merry Myrrh portrays bats causes a few more hearts to soften towards them. They truly are amazing creatures and deserve to survive just like any other species.

Leslie's Review

Merry Myrrh The Christmas Bat
By Regan W.H. Macaulay
Illustrations by Alex Zgud
Guardian Angel Publishing
July 27, 2018 / 978-1616339357
Children / Fiction / Animals
Ages 4-7

Leslie C. Halpern

This holiday story introduces a little bat who can’t resist his curiosity about Christmas. It all begins at a cozy farmhouse one spring day when barn bats Mr. and Mrs. Raft have a baby and name him Myrrh to remind them of the joy they feel at Christmas time. That summer, the Rafts inform Myrrh that he was named after a gift from one of the Nativity Scene figures they see each year through the farmhouse window.

When winter arrives, Myrrh is ready to find out what Christmas is all about, but his parents say he’s too young and will have to wait another year. Aided by his friend, Sensa the Squirrel, Myrrh sneaks out at night when his parents are sleeping to investigate the farmhouse’s holiday decorations. Not content to admire the Nativity Scene and Christmas tree from a distance, little Myrrh sneaks into the house through a crack in the window and causes quite a disturbance. Rather than freaking out to find a bat in the house, the family lovingly takes Myrrh back to where he belongs.

Illustrated with festive pictures that depict all four seasons, this 26-page book tells a story and teaches a lesson. Although bats aren’t generally considered cute and snuggly, Myrrh and his family have sweet faces with personalities to match. The emphasis on love, joy, and compassion permeates the story and presents bats in a highly sympathetic light, rather than the frightening stereotypical portrayals.

2018 Past Columns

1998- 2019
All rights reserved.