FIERCELY FICTIONAL celebrates fierce, inspiring fictional girls we know you’ll love. To us, “fierce” isn’t just about slaying dragons or solving mysteries. It’s about breaking free from your comfort zone, discovering your confidence, fighting for what you believe in, & discovering your emotional strength. Any girl can shine bright & be fierce, & in this series, we’ll connect you with a new fiercely fictional character every month!

FIERCELY FICTIONAL is back, and it’s about to get weird! We’re highlighting the artistic and courageous Opal B. Flats from Bridge to Bat City by Ernest Cline, best-selling author of Ready Player One.

Thirteen-year-old Opal knows that she’s a bit of an outsider, but she totally owns it. From the custom clothes that her mom makes for her to her unique tastes in just about everything, she takes pride in the things that make her stand out. In her eyes, weirdos make the world a more interesting place to be, and she’s happy to be one of them.

After losing her mother, Opal moves in with her Uncle Roscoe on the family farm. One night, she has an extraordinary encounter with a flying saucer that leaves her with the ability to communicate with the colony of Mexican free-tailed bats that reside in a cave near the farm. Amazed by her new ability, Opal befriends the bats and realizes they share her love of music, making her feel less alone.

Bridge to Bat City:

Book cover for Bridge to Bat City by Ernest Cline

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Ernest Cline comes a mostly true tall tale about an unexpected friendship between a young girl and a music-loving colony of bats.

After losing her mother, thirteen-year-old Opal moves in with her uncle Roscoe on the family farm. There, Opal bonds with Uncle Roscoe over music and befriends a group of orphaned, music-loving bats. But just as the farm is starting to feel like home, the bats’ cave is destroyed by a big mining company with its sights set on the farmland next.

If Opal and the bats can fit in anywhere, it’s the nearby city of Austin, home to their favorite music and a host of wonderfully eccentric characters. But with people afraid of the bats and determined to get rid of them, it’ll take a whole lot of courage to prove that this is where the bats—and Opal—belong.

Bridge to Bat City
AUTHOR: Ernest Cline
PUBLISHER: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
DATE: April 9, 2024

But just as she’s starting to settle into her new life, the cave is destroyed by a big mining developer – and they have their sights set on her family’s farmland, too. Opal and Uncle Roscoe (and 1.5 million bats) pack up and head to Austin, a city that thrives on music, art, and eccentricity. If Opal and the bats can fit in anywhere, it’s this open-minded city.

The bats find a home under a bridge in the city, but it turns out the residents aren’t exactly excited to have bats as new neighbors and look for a way to get rid of them. Using her scratchbook and artistic abilities (and a whole lot of courage), Opal makes it her mission to fight back against the misconceptions and prove that this is where both she and the bats belong.

Bridge to Bat City is one of our favorite reads of the year so far! Set in the 1980s, this must-read is filled with an enormous amount of heart, hope, amazing illustrations, and a whole lot of music references. The coolest part? Opal’s story may be fiction, but the colony of Mexican free-tailed bats she befriends in the story is real – and so is the Congress Avenue Bridge where the bats live in Austin!

Opal is fierce in every sense. We have a soft spot for quirky, off-beat characters and Opal is the best kind. She’s confident in who she is, and even as she faces so many challenges, she never loses sight of who she is or the things she believes in. She’s courageous and determined through it all!

We’re absolutely honored to share that Bridge to Bat City author Ernest Cline is here sharing a peek between the pages of this new read and all the reasons Opal is totally fierce!

Five Reasons Opal B. Flats is Totally Fierce:

Graphic that reads "Weird and Proud"

She’s weird and proud of it:

Opal B Flats enjoys being a little weird. She thinks being weird is a whole heck of a lot more interesting than being normal, average, and as boring as bath water. Opal loves her weird name and her weird mom who makes her weird-looking custom clothing, like a super cool turquoise tuxedo that makes her look like she’s wearing a futuristic suit of armor. She also lives in a pretty weird place called the Texas Panhandle, which she thinks should be renamed “Level Land” because of how flat and desolate it is.

Opal takes pride in her weirdness, because she knows that weirdos make the best music, art, food, and clothes, and they also tell the best stories. Weirdos make the world go round! And Opal’s story takes her to the Weird Capital of the World, Austin, Texas.

Graphic that reads "Keeps her cool"

She keeps her cool, no matter how weird things get:

Opal has a lot of really weird things happen to her during the course of her story. Things that some kids might not be able to handle.

First she has an otherworldly encounter with a flying saucer, then she discovers that it has given her the ability to communicate telepathically with the colony of bats who live near her family’s farm. But Opal doesn’t let any of this freak her out too much. She takes it all in stride, which is good, because things are about to get even weirder for her.

Graphic that reads "Music lover"

She’s a music-loving melomaniac and doesn’t try to hide it:

Since birth, Opal’s favorite thing in the whole wide world has been music. When she was a baby, she wouldn’t stop crying until she heard music, so her mother would just leave the radio on for her all the time. Opal listens to music every day, to pick her up when she’s feeling down, and to calm her nerves when she’s stressed out.

She lives and breathes music, and that’s why she dreams of moving to Austin someday, because it’s the Live Music Capital of the World. 

Graphic that says "Art for change"

She makes art and uses it to change the world:

Opal’s second passion after music is making art! She loves to draw, and carries her “scratchbook” with her everywhere she goes. She sketches the people and places she encounters in it, along with interesting facts about the subject of each drawing.

Opal also uses her artistic abilities to create flyers and a zine that she hands out on the streets of Austin, to try and convince its citizens to let the bats stay under the bridge. She uses her art for activism!

Graphic that reads "Fights for her beliefs"

She takes on a whole town:

When Opal and her music-loving colony of bats both lose their homes, they decide to relocate to Austin. But they quickly discover that the bats aren’t welcome in the big city. Some people on the city council want to use flame throwers to force the bats out of the bridge, then set up nets to prevent them from getting back in.

Opal makes it her mission in life to fight for their new home and convince the people of Austin that “the bats belong beneath the bridge!”

📚Need another fierce read to add to your shelf after Bridge to Bat City? Catch up on our FIERCELY FICTIONAL series!

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