Thursday, February 9, 2017

Hamstersaurus Rex by Tom O'Donnell, illustrated by Tim Miller

I have been determinedly working through my tbr pile of middle grade books from last year. Most of them I ended up returning without finishing them. I don't know if I've gotten a run of books that don't please my taste or if I've lost my ability to read middle grade, but they all struck me as too quirky, boring, badly edited, and just not interested. I picked up this title off my pile with a sigh, read the first chapter....

and started laughing uncontrollably. Is this fine literature? No. But it's exactly what I needed and, dare I say it, what kids will love.

Sam is just your average, unpopular kid. When a hamster suddenly appears in his class, he quickly whispers his name suggestion, "Hamstersaurus Rex" to his best friend Dylan (she's more popular than he is, even if she does go on and on about disc golf a lot). Then the hamster disappears. The story doesn't end there though - throw in some strange vitamin drink, an overnight mutation powered by junk food, a bully with plans for the world's best (or worst) swirlie, and the Little Mr. (or Miss) Muscles Contest and nothing is certain!

This is just pure funny. Jokes, puns, stereotypical bullies, quirky teachers, and, of course, a mutant hamster, are all dumped into the book for one fast, fun read.There are enough goofy illustrations to please notebook novel fans but not so many that parents will balk at picking up a "graphic novel." The humor is mostly clean and there are good friendships, consequences for behavior, and strong (literally) female characters.

Verdict: Add it just for fun! I'm always pleased to find new hamster books, because of our library hamster, and this is sure to delight fans of Captain Underpants, Andy Griffiths, and anyone who thinks mutant hamsters are awesome.

ISBN: 9780062377548; Published 2016 by Harper Collins; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

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