Welcome to Day 2 of the 6th Annual March MG Madness, featuring A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold!
A Boy Called Bat
by Elana K. Arnold
by Elana K. Arnold
March 14, 2017
Walden Pond Press
Source: ARC from pub for review
For Bixby Alexander Tam (nicknamed Bat), life tends to be full of surprises—some of them good, some not so good. Today, though, is a good-surprise day. Bat’s mom, a veterinarian, has brought home a baby skunk, which she needs to take care of until she can hand him over to a wild-animal shelter.
But the minute Bat meets the kit, he knows they belong together. And he’s got one month to show his mom that a baby skunk might just make a pretty terrific pet.
Bixby Alexander Tam, aka Bat, is a smart, curious, animal loving third-grader, who happens to be on the autism spectrum. When his veterinarian mom brings home a baby skunk, Bat is so excited to help take care of it. And as the weeks go by, Bat decides that he doesn’t want to give the baby skunk, now named Thor, to the skunk rescue people...he wants to keep Thor as a pet. But can Bat convince his mom that he’d be the best skunk caregiver ever, all while trying to understand his classmates and the world around him?
Elana K Arnold’s A Boy Called Bat is a heartfelt and humorous tale about one special boy and his special pet. Aimed toward the younger middle-grade crowd, A Boy Called Bat will inspire, entertain, and captivate.
Arnold has beautifully captured the heart of Bat, whose autism comes with difficulties, but also gives him a wonderfully unique point of view. Young readers will celebrate and appreciate Bat’s differences, but ultimately, they will simply relate to him as he deals with navigating friendships, divorced parents, a complicated sister/brother relationship and more. The bond between Bat and Thor is irresistible and so fun to watch unfold.
Full of tender, funny, and heart-warming moments, A Boy Called Bat is a charming and sweet middle-grade chapter book.
Q1. What three words best describe your book, A Boy Called Bat?
Charming, quirky, sweet.
Q2. Grab a copy of A Boy Called Bat and answer the following:
Favorite chapter? Chapter 23: Windows
Favorite page? My favorite illustration, drawn by the wonderful Charles Santoso, is on page 54. It is of Babycakes, the class rabbit. Mr. Grayson, Bat’s teacher, has an open-door Babycakes policy.
Favorite setting? Bat’s room, which he keeps just the way he likes: “It had a roll-down bamboo shade and a fine closet full of shelves and a pull-out trundle in case someday a friend came to spend the night. It had a ceiling fan and a reading lamp and a rug with a picture of a train printed on it.”
Flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentences teaser: “The skunk’s little pink tongue lapped at the formula. Droplets gathered at the corners of his mouth, and some ran down his chin onto the towel, but most of it made it into the baby skunk. ‘I’m doing it,’ Bat whispered. ‘I’m feeding him.’”
Q3. Who are your favorite middle-grade hero and heroine? What is your favorite middle-grade book?
Honestly, Bat is my favorite middle grade boy character of all time. I just love him so much. I am so excited he exists, and that the wonderful team of Walden Pond Press love him as much as I do. My current favorite middle-grade female character is probably Harriet the Spy. I love how complicated and bristly she is. As far as a favorite middle grade book… I don’t think I could ever pick just one!
Q4. Why do you think middle-grade lit is so important?
When I think of the books that shaped how I viewed myself and the world around me, I find that they would all be shelved in the middle grade section. Harriet the Spy and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler reflected my own tendencies to be an observer of the world, a student and researcher. Bridge to Terabitihia gave me a safe place to mourn—Jesse loses a friend, and I had faced the death of a friendship, which shook me deeply. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry and Dragonwings helped me connect with people who came from different places than I did, whose families negotiated the world in different ways than mine. The middle grade years are a time when a kid can really see how we are both individuals and deeply connected to one another. They are nervous years for lots of kids—they were for me—and books were a safe place for me to try on identities, to imagine how things might work out in a variety of situations, and to experiment with the idea of being autonomous.
Q5. If you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired by A Boy Called Bat, what would it look and taste like, and what would you call it?
Oh, it would have to be something vanilla, since that is Bat’s favorite. And, I think, it would have to be an homage to skunks, since the skunk kit is so central to A Boy Called Bat. I think it would be a vanilla and dark chocolate swirl cupcake, in honor of a skunk’s coloring and pattern, with vanilla cream frosting. I’d call it the Sweet Skunk.
ELANA K. ARNOLD writes books for and about children and teens. She holds a master’s degree in Creative Writing/Fiction from the University of California, Davis where she has taught Creative Writing and Adolescent Literature. A parent and educator living in Huntington Beach, California, Elana is represented by Rubin Pfeffer of Rubin Pfeffer Content. She is a frequent speaker at schools, libraries, and writers’ conferences. Currently, Elana is the caretaker of seven pets, only two of which have fur. Website * Twitter * Facebook
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