Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate
Author: Elana K. Arnold
Illustrator: Charles Santoso
Publisher: Walden Pond Press
Bixby Alexander Tam, Bat for short, is a third-grader on the autism spectrum. When his veterinarian mother brings home a baby skunk, Bat promptly falls in love with the kit but is told that, after a month, they will have to give it up. Bat sets off determined to show his mother that he is responsible enough to keep the skunk before the month is up. Amid navigating relationships between his divorced parents, his sister, and a budding friendship, Bat shows his devotion to the skunk kit (whom he names “Thor”) and even writes to a “skunk expert” for help. In the end, Bat’s mother decides that they can keep Thor until he is old enough to release into the wild.
A Boy Called Bat is a phenomenal look into the way a boy on the autistic spectrum would view the world. Bat has autism, but the focus of the story is not on his neurodiversity. This is a sweet, simple book about a little boy who forms a special bond with a pet and develops relationships with people in his own, unique way. The main character isn't punished or mocked by the narrative for having a different system of thinking. Rather, the inner workings of his mind are presented in a realistic and lovable way. This book provides great examples for how to interact with kids who have special needs. Children will benefit from reading this book as it will help them understand the behavior of their autistic friends who are just a bit different from themselves.