A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need know that A Boy Called Bat is the first book in a series about boy with special needs who falls in love with a skunk kit and strives to raise him. Bat's mom is a veterinarian who helped rescue the baby skunk after its mother and siblings died in an accident. Author Elana K. Arnold (The Question of Miracles ) portrays an third-grader on the autism spectrum, whose parents are divorced, with care and compassion. In this warmly told story, Bat's challenges are described in a way that young readers can understand.
What's the story?
In A BOY CALLED BAT, Bixby Alexander Tam (also known as Bat) knows what he wants to be when he grows up. He wants to be a veterinarian ike his mom, because to Bat, "people were complicated." His sister Janie teases him about how awkward he is, he doesn't have friends at school, even his dad calls him a name, "Sport," which he doesn't like. In short, being Bat isn't easy. But when his mom brings home a skunk kit, Bat gets to be something he's never been before -- he gets to be a caregiver. Bat slowly learns how to let the little things stay little in order to achieve a larger goal. And he might even learn how to make a true friend.
Is it any good?
A heartwarming story told from the point of view of a kid on the autism spectrum, this first book in a series succeeds in putting the reader in the shoes of its awkward protagonist. Though it lacks a little in the way of plot, A Boy Called Bat tackles two challenges common to school-age kids: peers on the spectrum and families dealing with life after divorce. Bat's voice comes through very clearly, and his struggles are real enough and simple enough for young readers to comprehend.
Bonus for animal lovers: Because Bat is so methodical, he digs up lots of information about skunks and their development. And the fact that Bat's falling for an animal that's challenging to domesticate rings a metaphorical bell. Bat himself is also a challenge to raise. This gentle story with a lot of heart brings to life an unlikely hero who's worth rooting for.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how kids who are challenged or different from their peers are portrayed in A Boy Called Bat. What do teachers and adults understand that kids don't? What do kids understand that adults don't?
Bat feels safe and comfortable when he's around animals. What other movies or books do you like that have animals as helpers?
Bat's parents are divorced, and he and his sister spend every other weekend with their dad. Bat finds it hard to adjust to even the smallest detail, such as the bump in the middle of his dad's backseat. What kind of things can make it easier for kids to adjust to life after divorce?
- Author: Elana K. Arnold
- Illustrator: Charles Santoso
- Genre: Family Life
- Topics: Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs, Wild Animals
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
- Publication date: March 14, 2018
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 7 - 18
- Number of pages: 208
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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For kids who love tales of divorce and kids on the autism spectrum
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