Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Review: A Boy Called BAT by Elana K. Arnold, Illustrated by Charles Santoso


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.

Oh my goodness I am so in love with this little boy!

I had only had time to read the first few chapters when Logan asked for a new chapter book to read. Yes, he is only six, but he refuses to read anything other than chapter books now. I made an educated guess that he might identify with this sweet, sensitive boy raising a baby skunk, and handed it over. Despite the fact that AR puts this at a 4th grade reading level, Logan devoured it in three days, telling me all about it as he read.

Of course, I had to finish it as soon as he was done, and I found myself smiling and tearing up a bit the whole way through. Bat is somewhere on the autism spectrum, although that is never mentioned in the story. Logan is not, but he shares Bat's sensitivity, attention to detail, and sweetness. And his love of math problems!

I absolutely love the way Bat is portrayed, both through his own thoughts and through the comments and reactions of the people around him (many of whom I now also adore).

"It was too much to think about all at once, and his skin began to feel prickly and too tight."

"Bat knew that sometimes Janie thought he was weird. But he still didn't like to hear her say it out loud."

I want every child and adult to have an introduction like this to people with a different way of thinking and feeling. It's not a right way or a wrong way, it is just simply the way that person is. And the way Bat "is", is quite simply wonderful.

I just saw that this is the first in an expected series about Bat, and I am so excited to see more of him! Bat and the Waiting Game is due out in March.
*Note: As someone who has also raised skunks from bottle babies - with a toddler Logan watching - I was very pleased to see accurate information and sensible cautions in that respect!

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