June 29


A Boy Called Bat Cover Reveal by Elana K. Arnold

The first character I remember loving was a little girl with straight brown hair who lived on Klickitat Street. I loved that she was stubborn and imperfect. I loved the way she saw the world from the particular angle that only she, Ramona Quimby, occupied in her family, her school and her community. As I got older, I grew to see that I also loved how Cleary’s books about Ramona were simple and small and, at the same time, about big, universal, earth-shattering matters of importance: What do we do when we perceive injustice around us, as when Ramona felt that her teacher didn’t like her? How do we deal with big unfairnesses, as when Susan Kushner steals Ramona’s owl design? How do we help the people we love make better choices, and what are our limits in the choices other people make, like when Ramona hid her dad’s cigarettes?

By the time I met Bixby Alexander Tam, the boy called BAT, I was already the author of six novels—four YA, and two middle grade. I think I needed that much practice to become the writer I needed to be for A BOY CALLED BAT. Writing a chapter book, I think, is a process of distilling and clarifying rather than watering down or simplifying. Bat, like Ramona, has to deal with the big and the small, mashed up together: a tease-y big sister named Janie; a desperate desire to keep the baby skunk kit his veterinarian mother rescues; the way he sees the world from his particular angle— he’s a younger brother with divorced parents. He’s an autistic kid and an animal lover. He’s a boy who loves things to be a specific way almost as much as he loves vanilla yogurt.

I remember how it felt to disappear into my very first chapter books, to meet characters who sprang from black marks on a white page to become real. Not sort of real, not kind of real, but as real to me as I felt in my own skin.

I cringed when Ramona messed up. I grinned when she was clever. Beverly Clearly gave me words for the big emotions I was feeling, but didn’t yet have a clear way of communicating.

Kids are whole people, already, with a rich emotional landscape and full-grown fears and dreams. Writing books for emerging readers is a powerful and sacred honor. And the thought that kids might weave the boy called Bat into their imaginations and memories, the hope that they might carry him forward with them through their whole lives, as I have carried Ramona—well, come on. That is as much as any writer, of anything, could ever hope for.




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 stray 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.

From acclaimed author Elana K. Arnold comes a story of first friendship starring an unforgettable young boy on the autism spectrum.



Elana K ArnoldElana K. Arnold grew up in Southern California, where she was lucky enough to have her own perfect pet—a gorgeous mare named Rainbow—and a family who let her read as many books as she wanted. She is the author of picture books, middle grade novels, and books for teens. She lives in Huntington Beach, California, with her husband, two children, and a menagerie of animals. You can find her online at http://www.elanakarnold.com.