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Literature / Bat

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Bat is a trilogy of children's books written by Elana K. Arnold and illustrated by Charles Santoso.

Bat Tam is an autistic third grader who wants to be a veterinarian when he grows up, like his mom. One day, his mom brings home an orphaned skunk kit which she needs to take care of for the next month until she can give him to a wild animal rescue shelter. Bat falls in love with the skunk, named Thor by his older sister Janie, and hopes he can convince his mom to let them keep him.

The books in the series:

  1. A Boy Called Bat (March 14, 2017)
  2. Bat and the Waiting Game (March 27, 2018)
  3. Bat and the End of Everything (March 26, 2019)

The Bat series contains examples of:

  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head: At school, Mrs. Martinez stands in the hallway and rumples kids' hair. Bat always gives her a wide berth because he doesn't like having his hair rumpled. So far, he's managed to evade her.
  • Big Friendly Dog: Janie's best friend Ezra Herrera has a mastiff named Pumpkin who weighs 120 pounds and is still growing. Every time there's a visitor, he rushes to the door to slobber on them.
  • First Friend: Bat's classmate Israel invites him to play Four Square and tries to talk to him outside the Sugar Shack. Eventually Mr. Grayson tells him that Israel is trying to be his friend, so Bat invites him over to meet Thor. Their friendship is cemented when Israel makes a crude clay statue of a skunk kit for Bat.
  • Laughing at Your Own Jokes: Ezra is constantly making terrible puns and laughing loudly at them, to Bat's irritation.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Bat's full name is Bixby Alexander Tam, but nobody uses it except his dad. His nickname comes from his initials, from his love of animals, from the large earmuffs he wears to deal with Sensory Overload at school, and from his habit of flapping his hands like a bat's wings.
  • Parent with New Paramour: Janie and Bat's dad introduces them to his "friend," Suzette. Janie is upset and doesn't want to talk to her. Bat doesn't understand why until his family explains what "friend" means in this context.
  • Playing Sick: The day after Bat's mom brings home the skunk is an Every-Other Friday, when he and Janie go to spend the weekend with their divorced dad, away from Thor. Bat tells his mom that he has a sore throat and achy ears so he can at least spend the school day with Thor, but his mom sees right through it.
  • Sensory Overload: Bat hates being dragged to baseball games by his dad, mostly because of the stink of the crowd, the painfully bright fluorescent lights, and the constant shouting, laughing, and cheering.
  • Singing in the Shower: Janie likes to sing loudly in the shower. Bat doesn't understand why she thinks he's weird when she's the one who sings when no one will hear her.
  • Tomato Skunk Stink Cure: Averted in Bat and the Waiting Game. Bat smuggles Thor to Janie's school play, Alice in Wonderland, and he sprays in the middle of Janie's solo, causing everyone to flee the auditorium. Afterwards, Bat's mom washes his clothes with hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and dish soap, and calls everyone who was at the play to give them the recipe. Bat hears her telling multiple people that tomato juice doesn't work.
  • Too Unhappy to Be Hungry: The morning after Thor ruins Janie's school play, Janie and Bat are both too upset to eat breakfast, even when their mom offers them chocolate chip pancakes.