Friday, August 18, 2017

Middle-Grade Review: A Boy Called Bat

I recently listened to A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold on audio. It seems that she is a prolific and award-winning author of books for children and teens, though this is the first novel of hers that I have read. It’s the charming and moving story of a young boy with autism, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Bixby Alexander Tam is known as Bat. His initials spell BAT, but the nickname also fits because he is super-sensitive to noises, like a bat, and when he gets flustered or upset, he sometimes flaps his arms, which looks very bat-like, even though his classmates sometimes laugh at him for it. Bat lives with his big sister, Janie, and his mom, who is a veterinarian. He and Janie go to visit his father’s apartment every other weekend. Bat loves animals and vanilla yogurt (with no fruity lumps in it), and he likes sticking to a familiar routine. He doesn’t usually like surprises.

Today, though, his mom comes home with a very unusual surprise – a good kind of surprise. Someone dropped off a baby skunk at her office whose mother had been killed. Now, she and her staff are going to take care of the baby skunk for a month, until it is ready to be released back into the wild. Bat adores the baby skunk immediately, and decides that he must convince his mom that it would make a great pet, permanently. He sets out to learn all he can about skunks and even e-mails a skunk expert.

Although this novel deals with some serious issues – like autism and divorce – it does so with a light touch and a sense of humor, which is a great way to introduce these topics to kids. Bat may be different, but he is a very likeable character that most kids will relate to in some ways. He is mainstreamed at school, in a regular classroom, and although he has trouble making friends, a tentative friendship begins to form in this novel over some shared interests.

The story is told from Bat’s perspective, and I enjoyed the book on audio, with an excellent narrator. However, I see online that by listening to the audio, I missed out on some great line drawings in the book that also add to the story, so you can’t go wrong with either format. This is a fun, educational (I bet you don’t know much about skunks!), and engaging novel with short, easily digested chapters for young readers. It’s also the beginning of a new series, and I suspect Bat will have many fans eagerly awaiting his next adventure.

208 pages, Walden Pond Press

Note: This post contains affiliate links. Purchases from these links provide a small commission to me (pennies per purchase), to help offset the time I spend writing for this blog, at no extra cost to you.

To listen to a sample of the audio on Audible, click the Amazon link below:

A Boy Called Bat
by Elana K ArnoldHardcover

Or order from Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, VT:


Or purchase A Boy Called Bat from Book Depository.


  1. This book sounds adorable!

    1. It's a great book - should be a fun series for kids!

  2. This sounds like a great middle grade novel for kids dealing with various issues!