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Saturday, March 24, 2018

A Boy Called Bat, by Elana K. Arnold. Harper, 2017. $8.50 ages 8 and up

"Bat loved going to Mom's veterinary clinic. If it were up to him, he would go with her every time she had to work late instead of staying home with Janie. But Mom said that as much as she loved having Bat at work with her, all his questions sometimes kept the vet techs from doing their jobs. Bat tried not to ask too many questions. But there were so many interesting things ... "

Bixby Alexander Tam (aka Bat) is a boy worth knowing. I hope you like him as much as I do. If you do, you will be delighted to know that Bat and the Waiting Game hits bookshelves on Tuesday next week.

Why will you like Bat? He is a third grader on the autism spectrum, and absolutely engrossed with an orphaned skunk kit his mom brings home from her vet clinic. The kit will need constant care until he can be sent to a refuge center prior to being returned to the wild. Bat feels he is up to the challenge and sets out to prove that he should be allowed to take care of Thor until he can be released, skipping the refuge center altogether.

Elana K. Arnold gives readers such a clear picture of Bat, his family, the supportive staff at his school and his teacher Mr. Grayson, and his growing friendship with Israel, a boy at school. The word autism is never mentioned; yet she writes his story with knowledge and understanding of his experiences. By showing readers Bat's behaviors in third person voice, we see that much of what happens with him is the same as what happens for most of us.

Bat's conversations with his mom and sister help us see how Bat deals with other daily events. When he visits his dad on the weekends, we learn more. By allowing readers to see into Bat's world and thoughts, these characters all gain importance and move the story along. It is both appealing and full of insight for readers. They will get to know Bat; what he thinks and how he sees his world. His family and friends adapt with humor and compassion, and allow us to understand how Bat's point of view may be different than most, but is worthy of appreciation none the less. It is a very sensitive look at an exceptional young man.

I am eagerly anticipating moving on to the next book in this series.

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