Bat and the Waiting Game

Book review by
Joly Herman, Common Sense Media
Bat and the Waiting Game Book Poster Image
Story of boy on the spectrum explores feelings, challenges.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Bat is obsessed with his pet skunk, Thor, so naturally the reader gets to know lots about skunks. Readers learn about autism, too, because Bat's challenges are told from his view with compassion and a touch of self-criticism.

Positive Messages

Actions speak louder than words. True friends forgive each other. Good things are worth waiting for. What we do is often more important than what we say. People aren't perfect, but they're still lovable.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Bat is surrounded by caring, patient people. His teacher, Mr. Grayson, is a gentle man who understands Bat needs time in class to adjust to change. Bat's mom knows exactly what Bat needs when he feels uncomfortable. And his dad listens to Bat when he is struggling.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Bat and the Waiting Game is the second installment in Elana K. Arnold's Bat series, and it looks a little more intently into the life and times of a boy on the autism spectrum. When Bat gets triggered by things he cannot control, he reacts physically by flapping his arms, standing on the balls of his feet, sometimes shaking his head back and forth. The adults in his life know how to calm Bat down, but Bat himself has the tendency to be self-critical, making this sequel more emotionally complex than its predecessor, A Boy Called Bat.

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What's the story?

BAT AND THE WAITING GAME is the second book in this series about an animal-loving boy on the autism spectrum. Bixby Alexander Tam, known as Bat, has a mom who's a veterinarian, and she allows Bat to keep the skunk kit she rescued in A Boy Called BatBat's world revolves around caring for his baby skunk. But there are things that get in the way -- like school, his sister and her friends, every other weekend at his dad's house, and even his own budding friendship with a classmate. Bat's patience is tried, and that's not easy for a kid on the spectrum who focuses so well on the thing he wants the most! Waiting might be difficult for Bat, but he has a chance to rise to the new challenges he faces in this story.

Is it any good?

This loving and realistic portrayal of a kid who loves skunks explores the emotional complexities of life on the autism spectrum. Whereas A Boy Called Bat focused on the skunk kit that Bat's family had taken in, Bat and the Waiting Game gives the emotions that Bat has about his skunk a starring role. Because it's written from Bat's perspective, readers can understand what makes him tick. Apologies don't make sense to Bat -- so why waste breath on them? Looking people in the eyes is uncomfortable, which is why Bat avoids eye contact. Maintaining a friendship after an emotional outburst is really hard, but Bat tries his best to move forward.

Kids who have friends on the spectrum -- or who struggle with Bat's challenges themselves -- will find a flawed and lovable hero in Bat. Author Elana K. Arnold gives voice to a misunderstood population, and it's about time.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the emotions explored in Bat and the Waiting Game. Bat is different from other kids, and he has a hard time apologizing for his actions, for example. What books, movies, or TV shows deal with kids' feelings in a way that seems real to you? 

  • Bat's parents are divorced and he has to adjust to life with two single parents. Are there positives to this situation? How does Bat handle the divorce differently than his sister?

  • There are a few instances when Bat breaks the rules in Bat and the Waiting Game. He has perfectly good reasons for doing so. Do you agree with his choices? Are there other books or shows that you like where kids break rules? What are appropriate consequences for rule breaking? 

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love books about animals and kids on the spectrum

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