‘Ready Player One’ Author Ernest Cline Unveils Debut Children’s Novel ‘Bridge To Bat City’

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers has snapped up North American publishing rights to Bridge to Bat City, the debut children’s novel from #1 NYT bestselling author Ernest Cline (Ready Player One).

Set for publication in April 2024, the book is described as a “mostly true tall tale” about a recently orphaned young girl named Opal B Flats, who forms an unexpected friendship with a music-loving colony of bats and helps them find a new home against all odds. (View new cover art for the title above.)

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After losing her mother, 13-year-old Opal moves in with her uncle Roscoe on the family farm, and it’s there that she befriends a group of orphaned bats. But just as the farm is starting to feel like home, the bats’ cave is destroyed by a big mining company that has its sights on the family’s land, as well. 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.

Inspiration for the novel stemmed from Cline’s longtime residency in Austin, TX, which is home to the world’s largest urban bat colony. Every evening, hundreds gather near the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge to watch as 1.5M+ bats come streaming out from under it. The book appears to mark something of a departure for Cline from the work in the sci-fi realm for which he’s best known.

Said Little, Brown Books’ Editor-in-Chief Alvina Ling, “In Bridge to Bat City, inspired by stories he would tell his kids at bedtime, Ernie Cline has crafted an enchanting tale that weaves together fact and fiction set against the incredible backdrop of 1980s Austin, filled with a vibrant cast of characters, rich music history, activism and environmentalism, and bats! Bridge to Bat City is the type of book I loved to read as a child; it’s a book about being an outsider—a weirdo, even!—but finding a place where you belong.”

Cline is best known for his debut novel Ready Player One — a beloved work of science fiction that follows 18-year-old Wade Watts as he looks to claim the fortune of a late video game creator by completing a quest to discover an Easter egg hidden within one of his virtual reality worlds. The book published by Crown Publishing Group in 2011 spurred a 2018 Steven Spielberg film, which Cline co-wrote, that grossed over $607M theatrically worldwide and scored an Oscar nomination for Best Visual Effects, as well as the 2020 sequel novel, Ready Player Two. Cline is otherwise best known for penning the 2015 sci-fi novel Armada, which follows another teenage gamer who discovers that the alien-invasion-themed game he’s been playing is actually a simulator to prepare humanity for a real-world invasion. 

Cline’s book deal was brokered by his long-time reps, manager and producing partner, Dan Farah, and literary agent Yfat Reiss Gendell. 

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