A Boy Called Bat
Bat (so-called because of his initials and the fact that he loves animals) is enthralled when his mother brings a newborn skunk home from her job as a veterinarian. He puts it in a sling and cares for it, even though his mother tells him not to get too attached; it will have to go back to the wild.
Bat goes to a different school than his older sister, one that is tolerant of his dislike of loud sounds and bright lights, and one that allows him to take a break and pet the class bunny if he is feeling out of sorts. Bat sometimes says things that are true, but hurt other people's feelings, or he says things that make other people laugh even though he wasn't being funny. The book never refers to the autism spectrum, but shows the world through Bat's eyes.
Lots of kids will find this book appealing - especially Bat's love for animals, and the novelty of an unusual animal to care for. Bat helps out in his mother's clinic sometimes, and future veterinarians will like seeing this glimpse into the job presented so naturally in the story.
Bat's likes and discomforts are relatable as shown through Bat's viewpoint, even for readers who are not on the autism spectrum. Everyone can know the pain of an older sister's comment, or the uncertainty about whether someone is really your friend, or the discomfort of change associated with traveling between two divorced parents. Bat's compassion for the skunk is compelling, and the advocacy for its care is shown responsibly in the story (it's a wild animal, not a pet).
As a book featuring diverse characters, this tale is a good one: Bat's story is about someone who happens to have autism - it's not about the autism.
Advanced 3rd (or even 2nd) grade readers could appreciate this story, which is the first in a series.
"Bat knew the rabbit liked treats better than kids, but he also knew that Babycakes was smart enough to realize that the two often went together."
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