Book Review

A Boy Called Bat – Elana K. Arnold

A Boy Called Bat (A Boy Called Bat, #1)

A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Boy Called Bat is a children’s chapter book about a boy that tries to convince his veterinarian mom to let him keep the skunk kit that she rescued. It is a very simple storyline without much to make it stand out other than the fact that Bat, Bixby Alexander Tam, has autism. The most beautiful part of this book is the fact that no one ever comes out and says it, but most of the people in the book just function around it as if there is nothing wrong with Bat – and there is nothing wrong with him. He just functions and thinks a little differently than his peers. That normalizing of autism was so beautiful.

His mother and even his sister are able to understand his idiosyncrasies and mold the world in a way that is most comfortable for him. He has special baskets for his clothes, books, and miscellaneous items. Even though is sister is around ten years old, she is generally able to understand how to behave with Bat and that sibling relationship (even with the couple of mistakes the two of them make over the course of the book) is so wonderful to see. In the course readings, Marilyn Irwin (2013) stated it perfectly when she said “For some, realistic fiction provides a better understanding of themselves. They see themselves in the characters in the book and they know they are not the only one who has a sibling with autism, can’t talk to girls, has been sexually assaulted, and any number of other depictions of life experiences. Through many of the stories, they discover that they are OK with their feelings.”

Even Bat’s teacher is amazing – he understands how to handle children with differing needs in his classroom. I loved how he would just drop whatever he was doing to help a student who had a question or was in need, did not say that they needed to ask permission to use the restroom, and could take breaks to visit the rabbit if they needed them and all of the students respected that because they understood how unique and important it was.

Two read-alikes that I would recommend are A Friend for Henry by Jen Bailey and A Manual for Marco: Living, Learning, and Laughing With an Autistic Sibling by Shaila Abdullah. The book by Abdullah talks about being a sibling to a child with autism, which is nice because I felt that the sibling relationship was handled so well in A Boy Called Bat. I feel that A Friend for Henry is important as a read-alike because it picks up the same theme of friendship and finding something (like the kit, Thor) or someone (like his new friend) that understands you, as A Boy Called Bat.



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