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“Baby skunks are easier than sisters,” Bat. –A Boy Called Bat
A Boy Called Bat #1
by Elana K. Arnold
Bixby Alexander Tam (nicknamed Bat) likes routine. When his mom, who is a veterinarian, is late coming home one day, Bat becomes upset. When Bat’s mom arrives, she has a good surprise. She has brought home a stray baby skunk that needs to be taken care of until they can hand him over to a wild animal shelter.
The minute Bat sees the baby skunk, he decides to become an expert skunk caregiver. Bat hopes his mother will change her mind and allow Bat to keep the baby skunk. Bat names the little skunk Thor and takes care of his needs. Bat even contacts a skunk expert in order to get advice about being a good caregiver. But can Bat convince his mom that Thor belongs with him?
Bat’s story doesn’t only focus on Bat’s love of the baby skunk, but it also shows how Bat doesn’t pick up on social cues. Through Bat’s eyes, the reader sees how Bat struggles to make eye contact, to understand others’ actions, and to make friends. Even though Bat is autistic, his difficulties are a natural extension of the story; Bat’s emotions are explained in a way that young readers will understand.
As Bat cares for Thor, he learns interesting information about skunks. Even though Bat is a good caregiver, the story makes it clear that Thor will need to be returned to the wild. Bat’s mother continually reminds Bat that wild animals should not be pets.
A Boy Named Bat is a sweet story that will appeal to animal lovers. Readers will relate to Bat and understand Bat’s desire to keep Thor as a pet. Adorable black and white illustrations appear every 3-7 pages and help readers visualize the characters. As readers learn about skunks, they will also see how Bat’s life is impacted because of his parent’s divorce. Even though the story focuses on Bat’s perspective, younger readers may have a difficult time with the advanced vocabulary. A Boy Named Bat is an entertaining story that would be an excellent choice for parents to read with their child. The story would lead to a discussion on many topics including animal care, family relationships, autism, and friendship.
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