Mar 13, 2017

Blog Tour: A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold

Hello, my fellow bookish creatures! Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Elana K. Arnold's A Boy Called Bat! Having nothing to do with vampires and barely anything to do with bats (both animal and baseball), A Boy Called Bat is a sweet yet moving read about a young boy on the autism spectrum and the baby skunk staying at his house. For my stop I'll be reviewing the book and part of the book will get MadLibbed by the author. Stick around for the end, too--you'll have a chance at winning your very own copy of A Boy Called Bat, and trust me: you'd be batty not to want it.

When coming up with an idea for fill in the blanks for Elana, I'll be honest: I blanked. But then I thought of something else that I thought was cool and fun and still meant filling in some blanks: MadLibs! So I pulled an excerpt from A Boy Called Bat, sent some blanks to Elana, and the result is as follows: a MadLibbed version of a book by Elana, from Elana.

Mom set the skunk sling on the bookshelf.

"Is it cuddling?" Bat asked, his voice a whisper.

"Probably," Mom said. "Babies sleep most of the time."

"What is it?" Janie asked.

"Bat, do you want to open the lid?"

Bat didn't answer. He was too excited. Very carefully, he fed the lid of the box and peered inside. Janie stood behind him, sleeping on his tail.

"You're sleeping on my tail," Bat said. 

Janie loved him. "It's just a bunch of rags," she said.

Mom walked around to the far side of the round table and reached into the box. She scooped up the pile of fur and sat down. "Look."

Bat watched as Mom nursed the towel in her arms. A nose peeked out--a tiny black and white nose--and then two slanted-closed eyes, a paw covered in downy silk, little ears still curled tight against its tongue.

Janie began, "Is that a--"

"It's a hoglet," Bat said, enchanted by the tiny creature, wanting so badly to hold it. "A baby unicorn."

Title: A Boy Called Bat
Author: Elana K. Arnold
Publisher: Walden Pond Press
Publishing Date: March 14, 2017
Pages/Format: 208, ARC
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

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.

Book in One Word: Sweet

If you know me, you might know why A Boy Called Bat piqued my interest at first sight: there's a boy called Bat, and the cover has a skunk on it. Sign me up! To further my intrigue, the synopsis itself wasn't too shabby--a boy's veterinarian mom brings home a baby skunk to foster, and the boy forms a friendship with said skunk and tries to keep him as a pet. Really, all of this is very Rachel, so it makes total sense that I would read it. And I did. And I quite liked it!

Meet Bixby Alexander Tam, aka Bat. He's a third grader who loves animals, vanilla yogurt, and for his clothes to be organized by the weather they're appropriate for. It's never actually said in the book, but Bat is on the autism spectrum. And like I said in the previous paragraph, when Bat's mom brings home an orphaned skunk kit, Bat immediately falls in love--and wants to keep the kit forever. But the book isn't really about Bat and the kit--it's really about Bat, and I feel like it's sort of a coming of age novel of sorts. It's quick and it's short (borderline chapter book/Middle Grade, but don't let that stop you, no matter your age), but we still get to see progress in Bat, see him grow. And I think that's the point.

If I wouldn't have gone into this novel knowing Bat was on the autism spectrum, I don't know what I would've thought. (Aspects of the novel confirm it, and I've seen it mentioned in multiple reviews.) I don't say that because it wasn't handled well; I say that because I'm unfamiliar with autism and how to recognize it and its different forms and how it all works. That said, I do think it was handled well. You can tell there's something about Bat, but the thing about Bat is that he's just Bat, plain and simple. And A Boy Called Bat did a really swell job at being about a boy on the autism spectrum without really being about a boy on the autism spectrum. If that even makes sense.

A Boy Called Bat is exactly about what the title suggests: a boy called Bat. It's like, here, have a quick glimpse into the life a boy who just happens to be called Bat. This isn't by any means a fluffy novel, but it is a kid's novel, and it's really rather light, which I liked; I don't think it--or Bat or his life--needed to be heavy. But there were these occasional moments that were suddenly heavy, and bam--I felt like crying. They were the tender moments, the moments that seem so mundane but that, for Bat, are a milestone or show how he's just a little bit different (but not in a bad way). It was heartbreaking. As the novel went on and I became familiar with the tone, I wasn't expecting something like that to pop up, but it did--and I liked it and what it brought to the story.

Sometimes a book comes along that's so far out of your age range that you wonder if you should even bother reading it. A Boy Called Bat just may be one of those reads. It's really short, the font is large, there are pictures, the main character is a third grader--it's not everyone's cup of tea. But I, a twenty-something, have found that books meant for readers much younger than myself tend to hit the spot and never miss. And there's something about A Boy Called Bat and the story it tells and message it shows, and I believe it's important. Sure--I would've liked a bit more from the skunk, for I am an animal lover. But this wasn't the skunk's story. It was Bat's. And it was a sweet and tender one.

Did I like it? Yes!
Did I love it? No, but don't take that a bad way?
Would I reread it? I don't know that I'd need to?
Would I purchase it? Maybe someday, but I don't have the urge to go out and buy it--though it'd definitely look cute on my shelves.
Who would I recommend it to? Fans of books about real characters with stories that are full of heart, soul, and baby skunks.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Photo Credit:
Melissa Hockenberger
ELANA K. ARNOLD completed her M.A. in Creative Writing/Fiction at the University of California, Davis. She grew up in Southern California, where she was lucky enough to have her own horse--a gorgeous mare named Rainbow--and a family who let her read as many books as she wanted. She lives in Huntington Beach, California, with her husband, two children, and a menagerie of animals. She is represented by Rubin Pfeffer of Rubin Pfeffer Content.

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1 comment:

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