THREE OAKS — River Valley Elementary pupils received their “One Book Two Schools” selection for March Reading Month on Monday, March 6.

Clues related to skunks and rabbits were placed throughout the district’s two two campuses (Three Oaks and Chikaming) before the March 6 reveal of “A Boy Called Bat” by Elana K. Arnold (with illustrations by Charles Santoso) as this year’s March Reading Month book.

River Valley Elementary Principal Patrick Zuccala said copies of the book (provided by the Rotary Club of Harbor Country) were distributed to all grade levels.

“It’s a fun event and we’re promoting literacy, at home especially,” he said.

“A Boy Called Bat” tells the story of Bixby Alexander Tam and his relationships with his family, teacher, friend at school, the classroom rabbit (“Babycakes”) and a baby skunk named “Thor.”

The author’s website ( includes the following description: For Bixby Alexander Tam (nicknamed Bat), life tends to be full of surprises – some of them good, some not so good. Today, though, is a good-surprise day. Bat’s mom, a veterinarian, has brought home a baby skunk, which she needs to take care of until she can hand him over to a wild-animal shelter.

But the minute Bat meets the kit, he knows they belong together. And he’s got one month to show his mom that a baby skunk might just make a pretty terrific pet.

Teachers and Rotary Club members began discussing and reading the book in classrooms on March 6.

Pupils will read (or be read to) at home and take part in classroom activities and special surprises during March.

“Read it enjoy it and have fun with it,” said Three Oaks Title 1 instructor Laurie Broccolo during the reveal event.

Rotary Club member Darlene Heemstra and Broccolo told students they both have books from their childhood that have kept and still sometimes read.

Students at both campuses also got to meet School Resource Officer Paige Holtz (of the Chikaming Police Department) on her first official day in the position.

“I’m Officer Holtz, you guys are going to be seeing me a lot more now,” she told pupils in a classroom at Three Oaks Monday morning, adding that she will be rotating between the two elementariness and the middle/high school.

The “One Book Two Schools” kick-off also included an emphasis on the uniqueness of each pupil.

At Chikaming (where pre-schoolers through third-graders attend classes) special bookmarks adorned with beach glass accompanied copies of the book.

“A Boy Called Bat” is the first book in the young middle grade series starring an unforgettable young boy on the autism spectrum that continues with “Bat and the Waiting Game” and “Bat and the End of Everything.”

Armold is the author of critically acclaimed and award-winning young adult novels and children’s books, including the Printz Honor winner “Damsel,” the National Book Award finalist “What Girls Are Made Of,” and Global Read Aloud selection “A Boy Called Bat” and its sequels. Several of her books are Junior Library Guild selections and have appeared on many best book lists. 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.

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