June 14

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The Rule of Thirds by Elana K. Arnold

When A Boy Called BAT was published five years ago, I hoped for the same things I hope for all my books—that readers would find it, and that it would have a big and beautiful life.

And in the time between then and now, my hopes for BAT have come true. More than any of my other books, A Boy Called BAT and its sequels have reached readers. I’ve gotten so many enthusiastic, heartfelt emails from parents, educators, and kids who see themselves in my character, who connect with this kid and the way he sees and understands the world, relationships, animals, and himself.

One teacher told me that after she read A Boy Called BAT to her class, a student asked if he could take the book home to share with his parents; “This is me,” he told them, and then they shared with him that yes, actually, he had been diagnosed with autism, a diagnosis they hadn’t known how to broach with him.

Many parents have written to tell me that the BAT books have helped them to understand their autistic children more deeply and have inspired them to wonder why their kid acted a certain way or said a certain thing rather than reacting with anger or judgement. Some parents have told me that getting to know Bat has inspired them to seek evaluation and diagnoses for themselves.

I absolutely didn’t write these books to proselytize or teach a lesson. I wrote them the same way I write all my books: about a third my own lived experience; a third things I’ve seen or gleaned from the world around me; and a third “what if,” that magic question that imbues all art.

Every kid who loves Bat, every grown-up who tells me that they found a new way to connect with their kid and understand their experiences, every teacher who shares that the BAT books have helped their classroom or school community to come together and more deeply understand each other, is a heart-filling gift.

Now, A Boy Called BAT will have the opportunity to reach even more readers. I am so proud and happy to share the cover of the Spanish edition—Un Niño Llamado BAT. Charles Santoso’s original art makes me as happy as it did the first time I saw it.

Cover art is a special thing. It’s a reader’s first connection with a book. So I am doubly delighted to be sharing another cover here today.

In February, Walden Pond Press published the first book in a new trilogy that I hope will speak to the same readership who loves Bat. Just Harriet is about a kid who really doesn’t like being told what to do, who loves her cat Matzo Ball… and who has a particular bad habit of lying. It’s charmingly illustrated by Dung Ho… as is the sequel!

It’s such a joy to introduce you to Harriet Spies!

There are a few things you should know about Harriet Wermer:

  • She always tells the truth.
  • She’s loving spending her summer on Marble Island, where she is an A+ mystery-solver.
  • Okay, maybe she doesn’t always tell the truth.
  • Actually…she has a tendency to lie quite a bit.

Which is why, when one of the guests at her grandmother’s bed-and-breakfast finds that their treasured pair of binoculars has gone missing, no one believes Harriet when she said she had nothing to do with it. But this is one time Harriet isn’tlying—and she knows that if she can find the binoculars and figure out who really took them, she can prove it. 

With her cat, Matzo Ball, her grandmother’s basset hound, Moneypenny, and Harriet’s new friend, Clarence, helping her out, Harriet knows she can crack the case. But when the culprit isn’t who Harriet expects, it’s up to her to decide how important the truth really is.

Like the BAT books, the Harriet series follows my “rule of thirds”—about a third of Harriet’s character traits (and about a third of the other characters’ traits) are based on my own lived experiences.

Like Harriet, I used to lie. Like Harriet, I had no idea why I lied; the lies made me feel immediately sticky and icky and I wished desperately that I could claw them back into my mouth, but that isn’t the way lies work.

Like Harriet, all my life I’ve found comfort and companionship in animal friends, even when humans (myself included) felt so hard to understand.

It’s a magical thing when others help your dreams become true. With the forthcoming release of Un Niño Llamado BAT and Harriet Spies, my heart is full to brimming.

Elana K. Arnold is the author of critically acclaimed and award-winning young adult novels and children’s books, including A Boy Called BATits sequels, The Harriet series and its sequels, the Printz Honor winner Damsel and the National Book Award finalist What Girls Are Made Of. Several of her books are Junior Library Guild selections and have appeared on many best book lists, including the Amelia Bloomer Project, a catalog of feminist titles for young readers. Elana teaches in Hamline University’s MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program and lives in Southern California with her family and menagerie of pets. You can visit her online at www.elanakarnold.com.

Uno nino llamado BAT by Elana K Arnold

Publishing on 2/7/23

Walden Pond Press

ISBN 9780063255821

Harriet Spies by Elana K. Arnold

Publishing on 2/7/23

Walden Pond Press

9780063092136