A Boy Called Bat
by Elana K. Arnold
Age Range: 6 - 10 years
Grade Level: 1 - 5
Series: A Boy Called Bat
Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Walden Pond Press (March 14, 2017)
For Bixby Alexander Tam (nicknamed Bat), life tends to be full of surprises—some of them good, some not so good. Today, though, is a good-surprise day. Bat’s mom, a veterinarian, has brought home a baby skunk, which she needs to take care of until she can hand him over to a wild-animal shelter.
But the minute Bat meets the kit, he knows they belong together. And he’s got one month to show his mom that a baby skunk might just make a pretty terrific pet.
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A Boy Called Bat is a delightful chapter book for children ranging in age from 6-10 that is about a young boy named Bixby Alexander Tam (Bat for short) who is on the autism spectrum. He is super smart, loves animals, and is very kind, but his mind works differently than other kids and people around him. From loud noises to ‘every other weekend’, Bat is challenged daily, but thankfully he has his family and other people to help him.
One day, his mother (a veterinarian) brings home a newborn baby skunk that she helped saved after the mother skunk got hit by a car. She only plans to take care of it until she can get the baby to a rescue organization and she is counting on Bat to help her. Bat is over the moon excited about this baby skunk and wants to love it, and pet it, and name it Thor. Although Bat’s mother has told him that they will not be able to keep the skunk, Bat is a determined little boy and tries to enlist the help of Dr. Jerry Dragoo who runs the Dragoo Institute for the Betterment of Skunks and Skunk Reputations. (And yes, this is a real place. You can visit the website at www.dragoo.org to find out all about skunks!) Anywho…. Bat is certain that if he gets Dr. Dragoo’s letter of endorsement, his mother will surely let him keep baby Thor. Will his plan work? Well, you will just have to pick up this adorable book and find out!
A Boy Called Bat is an excellent story for children as well as adults that will keep the reader engaged throughout – not only to find out if Bat gets to keep the skunk, but also witnessing him tip-toe out of his comfort zone to make new friends. There are super cute illustrations throughout and the writing is simplistic enough for any young child to read. I’m glad that I got to spend some time with Bat, and I assure you that you will as well.
Sometimes Bat wished that Janie went to his school, because it would be kind of neat to see her in the hallways and at lunchtime, but most of the time he was glad that his school was something he didn’t have to share with her. Janie attended the Robert E. Willett Elementary School, but this was her last year. Next fall she would be going to junior high school.
Bat went to a private school. It had smaller classes than the public school, and his parents thought it was a “better fit for him,” which was fine with Bat. Mr. Grayson was a good teacher who never yelled and who usually let Bat wear his earmuffs if things got too loud. Also, his school—the Saw Whet School—was named after a type of owl.
The main hallway of the Saw Whet School was a busy place until 8:35 a.m., when class officially started. Until then, it was full of parents walking the younger kids (those in kindergarten and first grade) to their classrooms and older kids walking themselves, all while the principal, Mrs. Martinez, stood outside of the administration office, smiling and being friendly.
“Bat!” called Mrs. Martinez, waving and smiling.
Bat didn’t feel like talking to Mrs. Martinez, so he pretended he didn’t see her and slid to the far side of the hallway as he passed. That way she couldn’t reach out and rumple his hair.
Bat hated it when people rumpled his hair, and Mrs. Martinez loved to rumple hair. She had never yet rumpled his hair, and Bat wanted to keep it that way.
Photo Credit Melissa Hockenberger