Bat and the Waiting Game

illus. by Charles Santoso. 192p. HarperCollins/Walden Pond. Mar. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062445858.
Gr 3–6—Bixby Alexander Tam, better know as Bat, is back. Picking up a week after A Boy Called Bat left off, this is a strong and more plot-focused sequel. Raising Thor, the skunk kit, has given Bat purpose and confidence. He's upset when his sister Janie lands the lead in the school play and will have after-school rehearsals, which will break his routine and require him to spend a few afternoons a week at a friend's house away from Thor. Bat's world expands as he navigates experiences that have been challenging to him: friendships, collaborative projects, and even messy things like art. Despite these strides, Bat still harbors a resentment toward Janie and feels guilt about spending less time with Thor. While the novel stands on its own, familiarity with Bat and his family will help deepen readers' understanding and enjoyment of this latest installment. Bat's autism is occasionally referenced, but it is not the major focus of the narrative. Bat is a delightful, inquisitive, and occasionally mischievous boy and the realistically portrayed themes explored in the book like sibling rivalry, living in two households, and shifting friendship dynamics will resonate with a wide variety of young readers. Short chapters are peppered with frequent illustrations of emotional moments.
VERDICT This humorous follow-up is even stronger than its predecessor and will leave readers hoping for a third book featuring Bat and his family.

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