“Janie is a social butterfly. And I am a social frog.”
That is Bat, talking to his mom. Yes…that Bat! Bat and Thor are back! The lovable characters from Elana K. Arnold’s A Boy Called Bat return in the second book in the series as Bat stumbles his way through learning what it takes to nurture relationships with humans as well as a skunk. Especially, patience. Those lessons don’t come easily.
Making and maintaining friendships isn’t difficult for his sister, Janie. But for Bat, who is somewhere on the autism spectrum, learning these rules is a daunting task. This job is made even more difficult when he realizes that he may soon have to release his beloved skunk, Thor, into the wild. To make things worse, he has to change up the predictable schedule that soothes him to support Janie’s penchant for the stage.
When his attempt to eke out extra time with Thor and be present for Janie’s opening night fails, Bat has another lesson to learn: how to make a heartfelt apology. Fortunately, his friend Israel is a self-professed expert in the area. “I’m an expert at apologizing because I’m an expert at making mistakes.”
Bat and the Waiting Game provides readers a chance to reflect on and discuss rules of friendship, how to truly support another person, and what makes a good apology. There are plenty of nuances to unpack in those areas. Fortunately, the coolest teacher in the world, Mr. Grayson, is right there with wisdom at the ready.
Elana K. Arnold continues her delicate approach, allowing readers to identify with a character who struggles to understand other people’s feelings. Readers get a healthy glimpse into Bat’s coping mechanisms as Bat and his mom manage his challenges and his need to be in control of how he is soothed. The excerpts on their routine for giving hugs and offering comfort may surprise readers and initiate discussions about physical touch.
Readers and families will all enjoy the third book in the series, Bat and the End of Everything, because even if Thor may have to leave, readers won’t be ready to leave the endearing Bat.