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A Boy Called Bat #1

A Boy Called Bat

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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.

208 pages, Hardcover

First published March 14, 2017

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About the author

Elana K. Arnold

35 books945 followers

ELANA K. ARNOLD writes books for and about children and teens. She holds a master’s degree in Creative Writing/Fiction from the University of California, Davis where she has taught Creative Writing and Adolescent Literature. Her most recent YA novel, DAMSEL, is a Printz Honor book, Her 2017 novel, WHAT GIRLS ARE MADE OF, was a finalist for the National Book Award, and her middle grade novel, A BOY CALLED BAT, is a Junior Library Guild Selection. A parent and educator living in Huntington Beach, California, Elana is a frequent speaker at schools, libraries, and writers’ conferences. Currently, Elana is the caretaker of seven pets, only three of which have fur. Sign up for her newsletter here: https://elanakarnold.us10.list-manage...

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5 stars
2,201 (32%)
4 stars
3,033 (45%)
3 stars
1,267 (18%)
2 stars
181 (2%)
1 star
50 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,038 reviews
Profile Image for Tj Shay.
206 reviews
March 26, 2017
I have been a teacher for thirty years. Bat, the main character in this book, is the most realistic depiction of a child on the Autism spectrum that I have read. The glorious thing to me, however, is that it doesn't feel like a lecture or a how-not-to, but just sweetly tells the story of a boy, his family, his teacher, and a most unlikely pet.

Wonderful story, real characters...a must have for every library.
Profile Image for Jasmine.
Author 1 book132 followers
August 30, 2017
Really well done story about an autistic boy. We've got supportive family and teachers, a main character who isn't punished or mocked by the narrative for doing things differently, an acknowledgement that it can be difficult for people to communicate with someone who's mind works differently, and it isn't ABOUT autism. It's just a story about discovering what you want and proving you can go after it, about working things out with family and making friends.

On a personal note, it was pretty painful to read the first probably third of the book, as I kept cringing at how oblivious the main character was to social cues. He isn't botching cues, he's missing them entirely. And then I remembered how aware I was of subtext at that age, and realized "oh man that's pretty close to me". I've really worked hard to be aware of subtext and the things that are hinted at, and that can sometimes translate into me screaming at myself internally about all the things that are going wrong, sure that everyone will be mad at me if I mess it up. But that didn't happen in this book. He "messed things up" under my metric, and things worked out. That was remarkably soothing.

PLUS THE EYE CONTACT THING. So a classic victory condition of books about autistic characters is that they learn to make eye contact. They learn to make real human connection through eye contact. And in this book, not only is Bat not punished for not being into eye contact, he tries it out with a new friend and decides it isn't for him. His friend's eyes are nice to look at, but he's not reading anything special from them, in terms of learning who the person is or making "real human connection". Instead he looks at his friend's hands and how he uses them, and learns from that. That is a.) far more accurate to how I read people's character and moods than their eyes, b.) something I have never seen in a book before. The acknowledgement that the magic eye contact "read a person's soul in their eyes" doesn't work for you, BUT that doesn't mean that you can't read a person's soul through other means. That was pretty awesome.
Profile Image for Julanka.
1 review7 followers
February 1, 2021
My 10 year old daughter had to read this book in school. She had to read a chapter to me and I had to read a chapter to her. Its was time well spent reading a book with my girl.
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,655 reviews5,129 followers
January 14, 2020
This was so cute and sweet. Bat is really precious, and the representation of him as an autistic character just felt tremendously thoughtful to me. I don't know if I feel comfortable calling myself an own-voice reviewer for this story because I don't know if I am or not. I was a kid in a time and an area where autism diagnoses weren't handed out except for in certain very specific situations, and then I just never thought about it much until I reached adulthood. Now, at 27, I talk to autistic friends and I read articles and tweet threads about life as an autistic person and I'm amazed by how strongly I relate to them... but I don't have a diagnosis, and I don't know how to ask for one at this age, honestly. So take this with however large a grain of salt you deem necessary when I say that I saw a lot of myself in Bat, and it made me realize we really, really need more autistic main characters painted in a loving and positive light like this, because I would've felt much less alone as a child if I'd had this story.

Rambling aside, A Boy Called Bat is also a really humorous, light, sweet story about a little boy and his baby skunk, and I had so much fun reading it. I know I'll be recommending it to anyone and everyone who will listen.
Profile Image for Corinne.
Author 15 books718 followers
June 29, 2017
Blurbed this one! I said:

"A Boy Called Bat is sensitive, sweet, and super fun. I read this book with the biggest smile on my face."

I was also a sensitivity reader for the book's portrayal of its autistic protagonist. I thought it was excellent and absolutely feel comfortable recommending it.
Profile Image for SheLovesThePages.
334 reviews98 followers
March 29, 2023
•Quick Deets•
Baby Skunk
Navigating the world

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 stars
A Must Read!

We read this with a 4th grade and 4th & 5th self-contained classrooms for an inclusion block. All students loved it. The main character has autism, as do some of the students and their friends. He stims, as do some of the students and their friends. All students either saw themselves in the book or their classmates. The storyline is also of high interest.
Profile Image for Margaret.
2,532 reviews
March 30, 2017
During the tenure of your career thousands of children will walk into your classroom, the school library. If you are fortunate you will be able to offer opportunities to students in grades kindergarten through graduation from high school. You will learn all their names. You will learn to support all their learning needs with access to materials inside and outside the walls of your facility. You will give the right book to the right reader at the right time. And just like snowflakes no two of them will be alike but you will be stunned by the beauty each one reveals to you.

This past week a boy, similar but not exactly like any previous students, walked into my life through the pages of a book. As soon as I met him, he had my heart. I cheered for him from page one until page one hundred, ninety-two. A Boy Called Bat (Walden Pond Press, March 14, 2017) written by Elana K. Arnold with pictures by Charles Santoso will find a place in your heart too.

My full recommendation: http://librariansquest.blogspot.com/2...
Profile Image for Paula M.
547 reviews641 followers
May 25, 2020
for more reviews and an excerpt from this book, please visit Her Book Thoughts!

When I read the blurb of ABCB, I instantly remembered my younger brother and I need to admit that its one of the reason why I want to read and review Elana's book. Not only that, I'm an animal lover myself and even though Bat is way younger than me, it was not hard to feel for him while reading. But don't let Bat's age hinder you from reading ABCB. This book is genuine and very easy to read. That's what I like the most. Arnolds writing was not hard to get in to and Bat's story will make you care.

I also recommend A Boy Called Bat for young readers who are looking for their first read. I would want my kids  to read this someday so that they'll have their introduction to authentic and diverse characters plus well written plot. This book is not only full of adorableness but full of heart as well. I'm looking forward to more Elana Arnold book no matter what age group she's writing it for!
Profile Image for Mary Ann.
1,485 reviews278 followers
April 10, 2017
Our students have been eagerly reading A Boy Called Bat, drawn in by the adorable cover. Many students relate to the bond that Bat feels for the baby skunk, but it is about much more.

I love how this quiet book shows how a pet can help children form relationships, take responsibility and feel a sense of empathy. Even more so, I love how it shares the story of an autistic boy whose neurodiversity is just part of who he is.
Profile Image for Neil (or bleed).
965 reviews741 followers
July 31, 2022
I didn't know what to expect about this book. I just want a quick read. So I started this book without reading the synopsis so I have zero knowledge about the story. After a few pages, I'd just realized that the main character (Bat) is on the autism spectrum. And upon confirming with the synopsis, I was correct. It helps that I have read similar novels with the same theme like Marcelo in the Real, etc.

Anyway, I like how the author writes A Boy Called Bat. In my opinion, Arnold has captured how a child on the autism spectrum behaves. It was realistic and genuine. It was thoughtful and heartwarming. It was careful but also challenging at times. Even though the story revolves around Bat, it is apparent that the other characters have distinct personality and have essential roles on the progress of the story and development of the main character.

I just hope that there are some explanation or simple discussion about the autism spectrum. Regardless, it was a great read.

Profile Image for Gabrielle Ward.
150 reviews13 followers
September 19, 2021
From the moment I started listening to the audiobook, to the moment it finished…I loved Bat. This middle-grade book will make you smile, laugh and feel pangs of joy all the way through. It’s a lovely book.
Profile Image for Carie.
310 reviews35 followers
March 9, 2019
A read aloud to my first and fourth grader kiddos. The slow plot and lack of adventure caused this to not be an enjoyable read for my crew.
Profile Image for Shenwei.
462 reviews221 followers
April 26, 2021
This may actually be the best representation of an Autistic character out of all the ones I've read for class this semester but then the bar is in Hell so...
Profile Image for Mehsi.
11.9k reviews361 followers
January 21, 2019
Short review, I am still unsure how to write one for this book. It was good, and I could relate to quite a few things that our MC with autism had. It is quite a first, generally I don't relate so much when I read a book about autism, but Bat was truly written well. However I didn't like how he kept pushing for the skunk. I get that he wants to keep the critter, but it is a wild animal, it should go out in the wild. Not stay in some crammed house. He was obsessed. And that is just not healthy.
I was sad for his sister though, it isn't easy to have a brother with autism, and you can see that at times she has a tough time.
Profile Image for Almira.
545 reviews2 followers
July 20, 2019
Bixby Alexander Tam (otherwise known as BAT) is on the autism spectrum, some days are good, some days are bad.
When his mom, a veterinarian, saves a newborn skunk, she brings it home temporarily. When Bat "meets" the kit he feels that they belong together, and is bound and determined to keep it, he has one month to convince his mom to let him.
The ups and downs of those on the spectrum is lightly touched on in this short children's book.
Profile Image for Baylie G.
61 reviews3 followers
June 3, 2019
I loved this book! As a teacher, I would love to share this one with my students to discuss how autism might look/sound/feel, and to talk about the challenges Bat faced to make friendships and navigate his family life. Very, very cute!
Profile Image for Kristen.
365 reviews
March 22, 2021
1.5 stars
The idea of this book is great. Unfortunately, we're still at a time when a lot of kids are very unfamiliar with the idea that some people have disabilities and challenges that they don't have. It's great when there's an interesting way for them to gain some understanding and to be able to empathize with those people.
Unfortunately, A Boy Called Bat seems to accomplish the opposite. Bat is fairly unlikable. He's pushy and manipulative, and he complains constantly. There's absolutely no sweetness that's so typical of so many people with disabilities. When Bat thinks something nice about his sister, he vows that he'd never actually tell her. He doesn't hesitate to speak his mind if what he's thinking is rude, but clams up if it's kind. And I'm positive that Bat is intelligent enough to tell the difference most of the time. Something the author seems to miss.
Everyone around Bat makes the mistake of catering to those bad qualities and overlooks him. When he and his sister fight, his mom only reprimands his sister. Not a word for Bat. When there's a problem at school, the teacher tells the kids what Bat meant, rather than asking Bat to speak for himself. Bat is very high functioning and is perfectly capable of explaining himself or being held accountable for (most of) his behavior, but the people in his life treat him as if he's not. Which is pretty insulting.
The author focuses on all the quirks and eccentricities that make Bat odd and unlikable, and basically none of the things that make him relatable or lovable.
As an adult who is fairly familiar with autism, I understand a lot of the reasons Bat does or says or thinks certain things. Kids likely won't. They'll just see it as random, weird, or mean behavior, which will probably only serve to solidify those assumptions about the "weird" kids they don't want to deal with unless it's to mock them.
Bat grows on you a little by the end, but I feel this book really fell short of its potential.
Profile Image for Rachel.
407 reviews
February 18, 2022
I really loved this sweet book about Bat, a boy on the autism spectrum, and how he relates to the world around him, and how he takes care of the baby skunk his veterinarian mom brings home. This book is a great way to introduce kids to the idea of what it’s like to have an autism spectrum condition as the story is told from Bat’s perspective. The book itself doesn’t actually mention autism (the cover jacket does), but Bat’s traits and personality will be recognizable to those familiar with autism.

The story itself was sweet and funny. I loved the relationships Bat has with his sister, parents, teacher, and others. They may not always understand each other or get along, but they always love each other. I’m looking forward to reading the next book with my kids.
Profile Image for Kade Gulluscio.
828 reviews33 followers
November 9, 2022
What a cute book. Seriously. This was a great refresher after reading some morbid style books, haha.

Bat was such a great, relatable character. The author did a fantastic job at an accurate portrayal of autism..

A Boy Called Bat is a lighthearted, sweet story about a young boy with autism and his pet skunk. How fun is that? A pet skunk.. I'm jealous.

I literally found myself smiling at this book as I read it, and that's no easy feat. I can't wait for my son to read this next.
Profile Image for Bernadette Kearns.
470 reviews2 followers
December 2, 2017
This book would be an excellent read aloud in elementary classrooms. The character Bat could teach so many children what autism looks/feels like and would be a great way for our autistic students to see themselves in the literature that we share. As a mom of an animal loving 3rd grader this also hits the sweet spot for those kids. For my middle school students, this is another book to teach us about our diverse learning community. ❤️
Profile Image for Michele Knott.
3,594 reviews156 followers
August 14, 2016
I really enjoyed Arnold's upcoming book. I think it will be a hit with young readers, especially those who have a soft spot for animals.
I like that this book includes some diversity with the main character coming from a divorced family and is most likely on the autism spectrum, without the book being about that.
Profile Image for Erin Entrada Kelly.
Author 30 books1,471 followers
August 3, 2016
What a great book! I loved Bat. He was such a well-developed character and the tone and voice of the novel is perfectly pitched for its audience. The illustrations were wonderful too. I really wanted to hold a skunk after reading this and I never thought I'd ever be in a position where I wished I knew more skunks.
Profile Image for Scott Fillner.
266 reviews35 followers
September 12, 2016
A Boy Called Bat is such a wonderful story Elana K Arnold. The book just blew me away. Not only is the writing outstanding...but the illustrations really enhance the story. I cannot wait for it to become a book in the wild for others to read.

The book is ideal for any students entering 4th grade or any students B or above 4th grade.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,038 reviews

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