Bitsy Bat, School Star

S. & S./Paula ­Wiseman. (The Bitsy Bat Series). Jun. 2023. 48p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781665905053.
PreS-Gr 2–On the first night of school, Bitsy Bat worries that she is not ready, but Mama and Papa reassure her that their star student is ready to shine. The classroom is too bright, too noisy, and Bitsy is the only bat in a crowd of critters. Laughs ensue when she hangs upside down on her chair, they chide her as she uses her feet to paint, and the snack that crawls from her batpack sends them shrieking. Bitsy’s head spins and her fear that she will never fit in bubbles over into a five-star meltdown. How can Bitsy shine in a world that feels so upside down or, rather, right side up? Windness’s cartoon Photoshop illustrations are detailed and remarkably resemble paint and pastel artwork. Back matter offers a note to readers from Windness sharing that she is autistic and like Bitsy, sometimes her world feels upside down. Windness does not overtly label Bitsy as autistic, but uses her endearing winged protagonist to demonstrate how topsy-turvy the world can feel for a person with autism. At the end of the story, Bitsy shares an activity with her class that will lend itself well for replicating and continuing conversations about the unique ways everyone shines. A glossary of terms is provided to help readers extend their understanding of autism.
VERDICT A thought-provoking story of inclusion to share beyond the first day of school; every library will want to purchase this book.

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